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Full text of "History of Plattsburgh, N.Y., from its first settlement to Jan. 1, 1876"

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\^ , In the year 1871 a series of articles were prepared by 
?^' Peter S. Palmer and published in the Plattsburgh Repub- 
lican under the name of " Northern New York Historical 
Society Papers." Paper " one," of that series, which re- 
ferred principally to the village of Plattsburgh, is repro- 
duced in the following pages. 


One hundred and seven years ago the English govern- 
ment issued a mandamus for thirty thousand acres of 
land, lying on the west side of Lake Champlain, to be 
surveyed to Count Charles de Fredenburgh. The war- 
rant bears date January 1 1, 1769. De Fredenburgh had, 
however, several years prior to this, selected the tract 
covered by the warrant and commenced improvements 
upon it, by the erection of a comfortable dwelling-house on 
the south bank of the river Saranac, at its mouth, and of 
a saw-mill, at the rapids, three miles above, yet known as 
" Fredenburgh's Falls." ^ From papers in the land-office, 
it appears that on the 19th of August, 1767, Fredenburgh 
and nineteen associates petitioned for a grant of 20,000 
acres of land, at Cumberland Bay, on the west of Lake 
Champlain, for which a warrant of survey was issued Jan- 
uary 27, 1768 {Vol. XXIV.). On the nth of January, 
1769, a mandamus was issued, granting de Fredenburgh 
30,000 acres, which was followed on the 24th of May by 
a warrant of survey, to lay out the 30,000 acres on the 
west side of the lake, beginning at a point opposite the 
island of Valcour, including both banks of the " Saranak" 
River as far as the high falls, the sandy beach and creek, 
and also the whole point of Cumberland Bay, commonly 

1 See recital in Patent of Plattshurgli. The dwelling-lioiise occupied 
by de Fredenburgh, stood near the site of the late United States Hotel. 


called Squinanton, or Cumberland Head (Vol. XXXVII.). 
The value of this tract seems to have been well known 
at that time, as the land papers show that on the 5th of 
April, 1 769, William Kelley, in behalf of Lord Viscount 
Townsend and twenty-four associates, petitioned for a 
grant of 25,000 acres, bounded east by Cumberland Bay 
and extending west on both sides of the Saranac River, 
including the land covered by the warrant of survey, of 
January 27, 1768, above mentioned (Vol. XXV.). 

De Fredenburg, who had been a captain in the 
British army, was a person of repute and of some pecuni- 
ary means. He was one of the gentlemen composing the 
retinue of Gov. Moore and Gen. Carlton, at the time 
they visited Lake Champlain in the autumn of 1 766, to 
establish the boundary line between the Provinces of 
New York and Canada. His dwelling on the banks of 
the Saranac is described as having been sumptuously 
furnished, and the seat of refinement and taste. Here, 
surrounded by the families of his workmen, who dwelt 
in rude cabins near the lake or at the " Falls," he lived 
with his wife and children in almost unbroken solitude, 
looking forward to the day when his broad acres would 
be cleared and his possessions on the Saranac should 
produce baronial wealth. 

De Fredenburgh's nearest neighbors at this time 
were John La Frombois, who lived on the shore of the 
lake, a short distance south from Sax's Landing, in 
Chazy, and William Hay and Henry Cross, who resided 
on Friswell's Patent, opposite the island of Valcour. As 
early as 1766 a small cabin had been erected by William 


Gilllland, on lands claimed by him at the mouth of the 
Salmon River, for the purpose of preventing an encroach- 
ment by De Fredenburgh in that direction. It was never 
permanently occupied.' I have no data from which 
to ascertain the duration of De Fredenburgh's residence, 
or the extent of the improvements made by him. He 
removed his family to Montreal a short time before the 
commencement of the war of the Revolution, and re- 
turned alone to protect his property. About this time 
the house and mill were burnt down, and De Freden- 
burgh mysteriously disappeared. No subsequent settle- 
ment was made in this immediate vicinity until the year 


In 1 781, the Legislature of the State of New York, 

in order to encourage the raising of troops for the 
defense of the State, passed certain acts, offering boun- 
ties of unappropriated lands to such officers and soldiers 
as should enlist within a time specified. These bounties 
were divided into rights of 500 acres each, and there was 
a provision in the act, that whenever any number of 
persons entitled collectively to sixty-one rights, or 30,500 
acres, should join in a location, the lands so located 
should be laid out in a township of seven miles square, 
and that the remaining 860 acres in such township 
should be reserved for gospel and school purposes. 

In 1784, Zephaniah Piatt, of Poughkcepsie, in behalf 
of himself and thirty-two associates, who collectively had 
acquired the requisite number of " rights," located them 
upon the tract of land which had been claimed by De 

» " Watson's Champlain Valley," pp. 40, 133. 


Fredenburgh under his warrant, and, on the 12th of 
August of that year, procured the requisite certificate 
from the Surveyor-General, that the lands were vacant 
and unappropriated. Letters - Patent were issued to 
Zephaniah Piatt, on the 26th day of October, 1784. 
About the same time, Mr. Piatt obtained from the State, 
in behalf of himself, Nathaniel Piatt and Simon R. 
Reeves, a patent for two thousand acres of land, includ- 
ing Cumberland Head, and extending north to lands 
belonging to Beekman and company.' 

These two tracts were incorporated into a town 
called Plattsburgh, on the 4th day of April, 1785. Three 
years later the boundaries of the town were extended so 
as to include the territory embraced within the limits of 
the present towns of Beekmantown, Dannemora, Saranac, 
and Schuyler Falls, with a part of Peru and Black Brook, 
and a small portion of the county of Franklin. 

On the 29th day of October, 1 784, three days after 
the Patent of Plattsburgh had been issued, the proprie- 
tors met at the inn of John Simmons, in the city of New 
York, to devise plans to secure the immediate settlement 
of the lands — an object of much importance, as the patent 
contained a condition requiring the patentee to " put one 
settler upon every six hundred acres of land in the tract, 
within three years after its date," and declaring that "for 

' De Fredenburgh's children applied unsuccessfully to the legislature, 
at a later period, for recognition of their title to the tract claimed by their 
father. The title to Cumberland Head had been claimed by William Gilli- 
hnd, under assignment from Lieut. Lowe, an officer who had served under 
the colony of New York, in the French and Indian war. Lowe's claim was 
not recognized by the State. " Watson's Champlain Valley," pp. Ii8, 193. 


non-compliance in making such settlement," the lands 
granted would revert to the State. At this meeting a 
proposition was made to give to such of the proprietors 
as should within two years from that time build a dam 
and mills upon the Saranac, the exclusive title to the 
Fredenburgh Falls mill-lot of fifty acres, and to one hun- 
dred acres lying on the north side of the river at its 
mouth. This proposition was accepted by Zephaniah 
Piatt, Peter Tappen, Zaccheus Newcomb, Nathaniel 
Piatt, Piatt Rogers, Charles Piatt, Thomas Treadwell, 
Simon R. Reeves, Melancton Smith, Jonathan Lawrence, 
Israel Smith and John Addams, twelve of the associates 
who met at the house of Judge Zephaniah Piatt in 
Poughkeepsie on the 30th December, 1784, and mutually 
agreed " to be jointly concerned in the building of a saw- 
mill, grist-mill and a forge on the river Saranac the next 
summer, each to advance an equal proportion of money. 
They also agreed to build a " petty augeu" (pirogue) of a 
moderate size, and to purchase twine for a seine. Judge 
Piatt was appointed agent for the company. The expense 
was estimated at $541, as follows: — Millstones, ^100; 
Irons, ^125; Nails, $37.50; Iron, $16 ; Transportation, 
$15; Saw, $7.50; Bolting cloth, $15 ; Pork, $So; Bread, 
$65 ; Rum $So} On the 6th February, 1785, the title 
to the 100 acres and to the Fredenburgh Falls mill-lot 
was vested in the twelve by deed. It was the intention of 
the company to procure the iron ore for the forge from a 
bed owned by the State, lying on the borders of the lake, 
about eieht miles north of Crown Point, known as the 

1 Eighty dollars for rum and only sixty-five for bread ! but they were 
buildinjr a srist-niill. 


" Skeene's ore bed;" [Laws of 1784, chapter 63, § 4,] 
and, for this purpose, they obtained permission from the 
State to take ore from that bed for the term of ten years. 
Laws of 1785, chapter 57, § 3.] 

Mr. WilHam GilHland, who visited this section in 1763, 
says of the Saranac : " Proceeded about two miles up 
this river, which proved to be much larger than the Bou- 
quet, and rapid from its mouth up ; at about 400 yards 
from the lake there is a rift, where the water may be 
conveniently lifted, and, by carrying it about 200 yards, 
will produce a fall of about 10 feet, which with two feet that 
may be raised by a small stony dam, will be enough for 
a mill." ^ At the head of these rapids the dam was built. 
It crossed the stream at the bend of the river, forty or 
fifty rods above the present dam. A forge was erected 
on the west side of the river, near the dam, and a small 
saw-mill, and a grist-mill some twenty or thirty rods below. 
These mills were supplied with water through a flume, 
passing along the margin of the river. The dam was about 
eight feet in height. 

The frame of the saw-mill was raised on Monday, the 
22d of June, 1785, and as the last pin was driven home, 
Cornelius Haight, one of the workmen, proclaimed the 
mill " the glory of the Saranac." 

The proprietors also set apart 997 acres, as gift lots, to 
the first persons who should settle on the patent, and laid 
out 30 lots of 100 acres each, to be sold at a " low rate." 
These lots included some of the best lands in the township. 
The " gift lots" were twelve in number. Number one, which 

* "Watson's Champlain Valley," p. 117. 


contained 6i acres, lay north and adjoining Cornelia 
Street, and extended from the Convent D'Youville to the 
lake shore. This lot was given to Charles Piatt, who 
also received lot two, containing 67 acres, which adjoined 
number one on the north. Next north was number three, 
containing 100 acres, conveyed to Thomas Allen. This 
lot extended as far west as the Bailey farm. Jabez Pettit 
received number four, which also extended from the lake 
shore to the line of the Bailey farm, and was bounded on 
the north by the Boynton road. Numbers five, six, seven and 
eight contained 81 acres each, and were given, in the order 
named, to Kinner Newcomb, Mr. Sexton, John B. Hart- 
wick, and Derrick Webb, and included all the territory 
lying west of Catherine Street, to an extension south of 
the east bounds of the school lot. Number nine contain- 
ed 81 acres, and was given to Cyrenus Newcomb. This 
lot was bounded by the school lot on the west and by the 
old Beekmantown road on the east. Number ten, which 
contained 50 acres, lay on the opposite side of this road, 
and included the Bailey homestead farm and a portion 
of the Boynton farm, lying south of the Boynton road. 
This was given to Moses Soper. Jacob Ferris received 
number eleven, containing 120 acres, including all the 
territory on the east side of the river, extending south as far 
as the bend of the river, near old Fort Brown. This lot ex- 
tended twenty-five feet into the river, and included one- 
half its water power. Number twelve, which was also 
given to Charles Piatt, who received numbers one and 
two, contained 94 acres. This lot lay north of the Boyn- 
ton road and included the east portion of the farm lately 
owned by Mr. Hewitt. 


The 30 lots of 100 acres each, set apart to be sold at 
a " low rate," were also advantageously located, including 
all the territory on the Boynton road as far west as the 
" Glebe lot," and that on the Plank Road and Rugar 
Street, as far west as Thorn's corners. Of these lots 
there had been sold, as early as August 23, 1785, on the 
Boynton road, lot one to Peter Roberts, lot two to 
Charles McCreedy, lot three to John Kelly, lot five to 
Melancton L. Woolsey, and lots seven and eight to Wil- 
liam Mitchell. On the west road, now the plank road, 
lot ten to Daniel Averill, lot eleven to Joseph Wait, lot 
seventeen to Simeon Newcomb, lot eighteen to Daniel 
Newcomb, lot fourteen to Mr. Saxton ; and on the south 
road or Rugar Street, lots nine, thirteen and fifteen, to 
Daniel Averill, Nathan Averill, and Daniel Averill, Jr., 
and lot twenty to Samuel Beeman. 

On the 23d day of August, the proprietors divided 
24,300 acres among themselves. The division embraced 
81 lots, one-third containing 200 acres, one-third 300 acres, 
and the remaining one-third 400 acres each. The appor- 
tion ment was made by ballot. Simon R. Reeves drew 
lots 6, 31, 58, 10, 33, ']'], 19,46,72 — 2,700 acres. Simon 
R. Reeves and John Addams, numbers 15, 40, 74 — 900 
acres. Zacheus Newcomb, 16, 30,59, — 900 acres. Isreal 
and Samuel Smith, 21, 51, 73 — 900 acres. Zephaniah 
Piatt, 20,47, 68, 22, 29, 65, I, 52, 63,3,42,66—3,600 acres. 
John Addams, 5, 39, 55, — 900 acres. Burnett Miller 
and Son, 14, 35, 62 — 900 acres. Melancton Smith, 23, 
38,69 — 900 acres. Charles Piatt and Piatt Rogers, 12, 
48,60 — 900 acres. Thomas Storm and Lewis Barton, 
7' 32, 56, — 900 acres. Piatt Rogers, 17, 43, 67 — 900 


acres. Peter Taylor, Benjamin Smith and Albert An- 
drance, 2, 28, 57 — 900 acres. Benjamin Walker, John 
Berrien, and Andrew Billings, 25, 37, 78 — 900 acres. 
Nathaniel Piatt, 11,50,76,79,36,64,8,27,54,4,41,81 — 
3,600. Nathaniel Tom, Jonathan Lawrence, and Eben- 
ezer Mott, 13, 44, 75 — 900 acres. Benjamin Calkins, Ben- 
jamin Titus, and Jacobus and Samuel Swartout, 26, 80, 
70 — 900 acres. William Floyd, Ezra L'Homedieu, and 
John Smith, 18, 49, 53 — 900 acres. Thomas Tread well, 
24, 45, 71 — 900 acres, and Philip Schuyler and Nathan- 
iel North rup, 9, 34,61 — 900 acres. 

Prior to this division, the town had been organized 
and town officers duly elected. The first town meet- 
ing was held at the dwelling-house of Charles Piatt, on 
the third Tuesday of June, 1 785. Mr. Piatt was elected Su- 
pervisor, and Zaccheus Newcomb, Nathaniel Piatt, and 
Piatt Rogers, Commissioners of Highways. On the ist 
day of October, the Commissioners made return to the 
town clerk of the public highways laid out in the town. 
Many of these roads are still in existence, and form the 
principal highways of the town. A number, however, 
which appear to have been laid out at this time, were 
never opened. 

The earliest complete record of town officers I have 
found are those for the year 1786. The town meeting 
was held on Tuesday, the 3d day of April. Charles Piatt 
was elected Supervisor; Kinner Newcomb, John Ran- 
som, and Jacob Ferris, Assessors; John Ransom, Town 
Clerk ; Darick Webb, Jonas Allen, and Jacob Ferris, 
Overseers of the Poor ; Samuel Beeman, Cyrenus New- 


comb, and John B. Hartwick, Commissioners of High- 
ways ; Darick Webb and Cyrenus Newcomb, Appraisers 
of Insolvent Estates ; Thomas Allen, Allen Smith, and 
Abraham Montee, Constables; Thomas Allen, Collector; 
Col. Edward Antill, Capt. Benjamin Mooers, and Major 
Golvin, Commissioners of Roads in the Northern Dis- 
trict ; Kinner Newcomb and Lewis Reynolds, Fence 
Viewers ; and Jacob Ferris, Kinner Newcomb, Samuel 
Beeman, Jonas Allen, Titus Andrus, Joseph Thurber, 
Capt. Montee, and Mr. Harden, Pathmasters. 

Jacob Ferris, who owned the water-power on the east- 
side of the river, built a saw-mill at the east end of the 
dam, and a grist-mill a short distance below it. (See 
Record of Deeds, Liber K., p. 199.) A fulling-mill, dye- 
house, and mill-house were subsequently erected, on the 
same side of the river. In November, 1787, Ferris con- 
veyed an undivided half of his water privilege and mills 
to Benjamin Mooers, and the other half to Theodorus 
Piatt, in October, 1792. On the 8th of November, 
1 796, Mr. Mooers conveyed his interest in the property 
to Zephaniah Piatt. The mill property on the opposite 
side of the river had also changed owners. In Novem- 
ber, 1797, the title to the one hundred acres, except 
twelve building lots, laid out by Piatt Rogers, as surveyor, 
in 1 79 1, and the title of so much of the Ferris lot as had 
been set apart for mill purposes, had become vested in 
Zephaniah Piatt, Theodorus Piatt, and Melancton Smith, 
as tenants in common ; Zephaniah Piatt owning an undi- 
vided half, and the others each a fourth. 

In this year, 1797, the old dam at the bend of the 


river was torn down, and a new one, about fourteen feet 
high, ^\as erected on or near the site of the present dam, 
and new mills built there. (See 17 Johnson's N. Y. Reports, 
198.) A race or canal was also dug across to " Clark's 
Landing," and a forge and fulling-mill were built on the 
low land near its mouth. The grist-mill, erected about 
this time, stood near the west end of the dam, about fifty 
feet back from the street. This mill was destroyed by a 
freshet a few years afterwards, when the location of the 
mill was changed to the site of the present stone mill on 
the east side of the river. At the time of this freshet 
several persons were engaged in removing the machinery 
from the mill, when the building fell ; all escaped except 
Daniel Robinson, who was carried down the stream as far 
as Mr. Sailly's ashery, one hundred rods below, where he 
was rescued by persons standing on the shore. When 
the water subsided, the millstone was found at the place 
where Robinson had been drawn out of the river. The 
"Governor" declared that when he found the mill was 
tumbling to pieces, he clung to the millstone for safety, 
and floated upon it to that point. The story seems im- 
probable, still the fact that the stone was found at the 
place where he landed, is evidence of its truth. This 
freshet was for many years afterwards referred to as the 
one " when Gov. Robinson rode down the river on a mill- 

While the mill property was owned by Zephaniah 
Piatt, Theodorus Piatt and Mclancton Smith, what is 
now known as the " eight-and-one-half acres mill-lot," 
was laid out and appropriated to mill purposes. This 


inclLidcd all the mill privileges upon both sides of the 
river. In December, 1817, the title to the whole property 
became vested in Levi Piatt. The following is the man- 
ner in which Judge Piatt acquired his title : In 1797, as 
has been stated, Zephaniah Piatt owned one-half, and 
Theodorus Piatt and Melancton Smith each one-fourth. 
Zephaniah Piatt, wdio died in 1808, devised one-fourth to 
his son James, who conveyed to Levi in November, 1809. 
He devised his remaining one-fourth to his son David, 
who died before his father. This portion went to Zeph- 
aniah Piatt's eleven surviving children. James, Charles 
L., and Jonas, conveyed their interest to Levi in 1809-10, 
and Levi took one forty-fourth as heir. The title to the 
remaining seven parts was acquired by Levi by com- 
missioner's deed on a sale in partition. Theodorus Piatt 
conveyed his one-fourth, in July, 1803, to Barnadus Swart- 
out, who conveyed to Melancton Smith, Sidney Smith, 
and John Bleeker, in June, 1804. Bleeker was a party 
to the partition suit. Melancton and Sidney Smith con- 
veyed their interest to Levi Piatt, in December, 181 7. 
The elder Melancton Smith died in possession of his 
one-fourth, which was subsequently sold on execution 
against his heirs and devisees, and conveyed by sheriff's 
deed to John Suydam and Henry S. \Mckoff, in No- 
vember, 1 8 10. Suydam and Wickoff were parties to the 
partition suit. They also joined in the deed of Decem- 
ber, 181 7. 

In May, 1827, the Bank of Plattsburgh acquired title 
to all the water-power in the eight-and-one-half acre 
mill-lot, and also to land lying north of Bridge Street, on 


the east side of the river,"which was not tlien considered 
a portion of the mill property. The Trustees of the 
Bank subdivided that portion of the eight-and-one-half 
acre lot adjacent to the river, and the lots on the north 
side of Bridge Street into eight mill-lots, and after reserv- 
ing for the grist-mill a supply of water suflficient for eight 
run of stones, allotted the residue of the water to these 
mill-lots, in the proportion of one-third to the west side 
and two-thirds to the east side of the river. The propor- 
tion thus allotted to each side was subdivided among the 
lots lying on the respective sides. On the east side 
number one, adjoining the dam, and number two, lying 
between number one and Bridge Street, were each enti- 
tled to two-elevenths. Numbers three and four, lying on 
the north side of Bridge Street, to the same quantity, 
and number five, which lay north and below the two last, 
to three-elevenths. On the west side, number six, adjoin- 
ing the dam, was entitled to one-fifth of the water allot- 
ted to that side of the river, and number seven, adjoining 
but below the dam, and number eight, which fronted on 
Bridge Street, to two-fifths each. 

All of this mill property was sold at public auction, 
by the trustees, in July, 1829. The grist-mill, and the 
mill-lots numbers one, six and seven, were purchased by 
Richard Yates, as trustee for certain State Banks, and 
the remaining lots by John Palmer. At the time of this 
sale, a small portion only of this water-power was in use. 
On the west side of the dam, on lot six, a brick building 
stood, used as a wool-carding and cloth-dressing estab- 
lishment. An old saw-mill stood in the stream, just be- 


low the dam, on lot seven, and an old building on lot 
eight, which had been used as an oil-mill.^ Access was 
had to the saw-mill over a causeway of slabs, leading 
from Bridge Street between the river and the oil-mill. 
These three buildings, with an old rickety saw-mill at 
the east end of the dam, on lot one, and the grist-mill, 
were all the works then connected with the water-power 
at this dam. An old red building stood on the south 
side of the street near the east end of the bridge, and 
a small wooden building on the opposite side of the 
street. A dwelling, which the miller generally occupied, 
stood on the west side of Green Street in rear of the old 
Israel Green Hotel, and there were three small dwellings 
on the south side of a passage-way running along the 
bank of the river opposite the Upper Island. 

Judge Palmer, immediately after his purchase, con- 
structed a flume, for the supply of lots two, three, four, 
and five. He also, in 1830, built a dam about half a 
mile further up the river, at the Covered Bridge, on which 
Mr. Cyrus Waterhouse, the next year, erected a small 
saw-mill. In 1835, Ashley Clark erected works for saw- 
ing marble at this dam. In the spring of 1833, Judge 
Palmer sold lot " four," on the north side of Bridge Street 
at the lower dam, to- Clark, Reynolds & McGregor, who 
erected works for sawing marble. A similar building 
was subsequently erected by Hill, Stephenson & Board- 
man on lot " five." At these mills, and at the marble 
mills of Mr. Clark, at the upper dam, large quantities of 
marble from the Isle La Motte quarries were sawed. 

1 The oil-mill was started by John Mallory, in 1821. 


In 1833, Douglass L. Fouquet purchased the east 
half of lot " three," on which he erected a large wooden 
building. Here C. S. Bliss & Co. carried on the carding 
and cloth-dressing business for a short time, when they 
were succeeded by Hiram J. Bentley, who in 1835 trans- 
ferred his interest to Mr. Fouquet. At this time (1835) 
Noyes P. Gregory carried on the carding and cloth-dress- 
ing business at the west end of the bridge. Horace 
Boardman had a small foundry in a stone building 
erected on number "five;" the marble mill of Clark, 
McGregor & Co. was in full operation, and the small 
building at the east end of the bridge, near Fouquet's 
woollen mill, was occupied by E. H. Barnum as a comb 
factory. William Palmer and Charles S. Mooers occu- 
pied the stone building which had been erected in 1833, 
on the site of the old oil-mill, as a cotton factory. Cor- 
nelius Halsey & Co. had another cotton factory in the 
brick building at the west end of the dam. Owing to 
the great difficulty and expense of reaching a southern 
market during eight months of the year, and the small 
capacity of these establishments, the manufacture of cot- 
ton cloth was soon abandoned. The marble mills were 
also closed after a few years. At or about this time, 
Peleg T. Stafford and James Smith had a small machine 
shop in rear of the Fouquet building. The old saw-mill 
continued in a dilapidated condition, and was used for 
custom work only. It continued so until 1 846, when F. 
J. & S. W. Barnard, of Albany, erected a large saw-mill 
at that place. After C. Halsey & Co. had discontinued 
the manufacture of cotton cloth, the brick building was 


used principally as a wheelwright and cabinetmaker's 
shop, until about the year 1859, when it was torn down 
and a saw-mill erected by Mr. Tefft in its })lace. 

Having " glanced " at the early history of that portion 
of the one hundred acres, which is directly connected 
with the mill privileges at this place, let us return to the 
time when the twelve building lots were laid out, in 1791. 
These lots extended west as far as the west line of the 
one hundred acres, which was about ten rods east from 
the present line of Catharine Street, and included all the 
territory now bounded north by Cornelia Street, south by 
the brow of the hill in rear of Broad Street, and east by 
Margaret Street, as laid out between Cornelia and Brink- 
erhoff Street, and that line continued to the river. They 
contained in all about forty-three acres of land, and were 
of uniform depth, east and west, but varied in width from 
seven to eleven rods. Although these lots were surveyed 
and apportioned in 1791, I do not find that any portion 
was occupied until 1797, when Doctor Chauncey Fitch 
bought number two, north of the present Court House, 
and the same year erected a dwelling on the east end of 
the lot. In February of that year, number five was con- 
veyed to Mrs. Phebe Ketchum, who, as appears from the 
record of deeds, lived on the lot in the month of Septem- 
ber following. The next year, William and James Bailey 
purchased about one-fourth of an acre in the southeast 
corner of number five, near the present site of Reed's 
jewelry store, upon which they erected a store, sub- 
sequently occupied by Bailey & Piatt. Theodorus 
Piatt had a small efifice, near a deep ravine south o 


this store. These buildings fronted upon the unoc- 
cupied lands of the mill owners. At that time there 
were no other buildings in this section of the settlement 
until 3^ou reached the vicinity of the block-house, on the 
" south road." Near this block house, Peter Roberts had 
built a blacksmith shop. Beyond were several dwellings 
erected on one of the gift lots. Prior to 1795, Nathaniel 
Piatt had become the owner of all the land on the south 
side of Broad Street, west of the " building lots " of the 
mill proprietors. These he had laid out into 17 building 
lots, called the city lots, of which 12 lay to the west of the 
block-house, and 5 to the east. 

A building stood on the north bank of the river, a 
few rods west of the present railroad crossing, then or 
soon afterwards occupied by Piatt & Mooers, as a store.. 
Next east, was the residence of Peter Sailly, erected in 
1 795-6, with a store-house and ashery upon the bank of 
the river opposite his dwelling. Next east of Mr Sailly 's, 
stood a dwelling-house, built by Charles Piatt, and then 
occupied by Benjamin Graves, and beyond were three or 
four dwellings, and on the bank of the lake a block-house, 
which was then used as a Court-House and Jail. On the 
east side of the river, John Clark had built a house upon 
the site of the old Fredenburgh house, which was occu- 
pied by him and subsequently by Israel Green, as a tav- 
ern. A small store-house stood on the margin of the 
river, back of this building, at the place then called 
" Clark's Landinsf." There were also two buildinurs on 
" the point," which had been built by Jacob Ferris. In 
September, 1 793, John Lewis Fouquet purchased the lot 



now owned by Mr. Lansing, upon wliicli he erected a 
dwelling, and soon afterwards Zephaniah Piatt built 
the "homestead," now known as the "government 

These buildings, with the mills and the mill-houses 
attached, constituted, about 1 798, nearly the entire settle- 
ment within the present limits of the village. Up to this 
time, no streets had been projected or opened ; the only 
thoroughfares being the common highways, leading 
from the surrounding country to the " proprietors' mills," 
as they were called. These highways were four in num- 
ber. One known as the " Cumberland Head roaid," 
passing along the north bank of the river to the foot of 
the bay ; another known as " South Street," which lead 
past Roberts's blacksmith shop, to the settlements in the 
western and south-western parts of the township ; another 
known as " the road to Beekman's Patent," which inter- 
sected South Street near the Roberts shop, and a fourth 
known as the " Peru Road," which crossed the bridge 
and ran along the east bank of the river and the shore of 
the lake, to the mouth of the Salmon River and beyond. 
There was also a short road from Clark's tavern to the 
two Ferris buildings on the point. South Street, between 
Theodorus Piatt's ofifice and Roberts's shop, was a 
crooked way, passing through the pine bushes along the 
margin of a ravine. 

Although its population at this time could not have 
exceeded two hundred and fifty, the village had never- 
theless become a place of considerable importance. 
^ Plattsburgh was the shiretown of a large tract of country, 


extending to Lake George on the south and to the banks 
of the St. Lawrence on the west. Courts were held 
here, at which the principal citizens of the county as- 
sembled, as ofHcers, jurors, witnesses or suitors, or to 
confer together in relation to the political and local ques- 
tions of the day. Its merchants controlled the business 
of a large section of country, collecting pot and pearl 
ashes and furs for export, and sending, yearly, long rafts 
of timber to the Quebec market. When the inhabitants 
of the ten townships upon the river St. Lawrence peti- 
tioned the legislature of 1802 for the organization of the 
county of St. Lawrence, they based their application 
upon the " extreme difficulty, troubles and expenses, 
jurors and witnesses must be subject to, in attending at 
such a distance, together with the attendance at Platts- 
burgh for arranging and returning the town business." 
A similar complaint, three years before, by the inhabi- 
tants of Crown Point, had resulted in the organization of 
Essex County. These changes did not affect the busi- 
ness or prosperity of the village, while it relieved the 
inhabitants of Crown Point and of ten townships from a 
most serious inconvenience. 

In Winterbothani's America, vol. ii. p. 324, the 
author refers to the early prosperity of the village, and 
the intelligence of the first settlers, in the following 
quaint language : " They have artisans of almost every 
kind among them, and furnish among themselves all the 
materials for building, glass excepted. Polite circles 
may here be found, and the genteel traveller be enter- 
tained with the luxuries of a sea-port, a tune on the 


harpsicord, aiid a philosophical conversation." This was 
Plattsburgh in 1792. 

It is well known that New York was originally a 
*' Slave State." The " institution," however, never flour- 
ished in this or in any of the Northern States — a result, 
if we may judge from the efforts of Massachusetts to 
continue the slave-trade, attributable more to the in- 
fluence of climate, than to the principles of the people. 
Gerrit Smith encountered and was repulsed by the same 
obstacles of climate, when, a few years ago, he attempted 
to settle the blacks among the hills and snows of his 
Franklin County lands. The influence of a northern 
climate led to the enactment of a law, in 1 798, for the 
gradual emancipation of slaves. This was followed, in 
18 1 7, by an act declaring that all slaves, born after July 
4, 1799, should be free ; if male, at the age of 28, or, if 
female, at the age of 25. 

In 1790, the whole number of slaves in the State was 
21,324, of which seventeen resided in this county. In 
1800, the number in this county had increased to fifty- 
eight. From this time the number gradually decreased. 
In 1 810, as shown by the census, there were but twenty- 
nine slaves in the county. 

The town records show that on the i6th day of 
August, 1794, the " negro man Hick, and Jane, his wife," 
were manumitted by Judge Treadwell. In September 
following. Hick bought his daughter Cynthia of the 
Judge for seventeen pounds (^42.50). Judge Treadwell, 
about this time, also manumitted his man York ; Brist 
was manumitted by John Addams, in April, 1803, and 


Will, in November, 1804. On the ist of January, 1806, 
Benjamin Mooers manumitted his " negro girl, Ann,^' 
and Robert Piatt gave " Gin " her freedom, in May, 
1806. On the 6th of January, 1808, the executors of 
Zephaniah Piatt manumitted Cato, and in May of the 
same year, Peter Sailly, manumitted Dean and her three 
children, Francis, Abel and Caty. William Bailey, also, 
on that day, manumitted his man Pete. 

The town books also contain the records of the birth 
of sixteen children, born of slave mothers and held to 
service. Some of these are still living and reside in this 
county. One, born on the 28th of December, 18 14, was 
named Sir George Provost — a compliment of which the 
commander of the British forces at the siege of Plattsburgh 
was probably never informed, and could not, therefore, 
fully appreciate. 

I have referred to two block-houses, as standing here 
in 1798. One stood on the bank of the lake, on the farm 
of Elric L. Nichols; the other was within the present 
bounds of Broad Street, near the residence of the late J. 
D. Woodward. This latter was erected for the protec- 
tion of the inhabitants at the time when the whole coun- 
try apprehended a general Indian war. For several years 
the settlers in that locality were accustomed to pass the 
night within its walls. This block-house was never used 
for any other purpose than as a house of refuge from fan- 
cied danger. The one on the lake shore was built in 
1789, and was at first intended for a jail. [See act 
passed March 3, 1789, which recites that the inhabitants 
of Clinton County are disposed to build a block-house at 


Plattsburgh, to be used as a jail, &c.] It was afterwards 
enlarged and used as a court-house and school-house, 
and as a place of public worship. The court-room was 
not completed until 1 796. At the annual town meeting 
in 1806, it was voted to repair the old block-house, with a 
brick chimney, and glaze it, and that it be used as a Poor- 

On the 9th June, 1788, the leading men of the county 
met in this village to take their official oaths of office and 
organize our county government. Melancton L. Wool- 
sey administered the oath of office to Judge Charles Piatt, 
who, in turn, " swore in " Mr. Woolsey as County Clerk. 
Then the other county officers approached the table, 
signed the roll and severally swore that they would support 
the Constitution of the United States ; that they renounced 
and abjured allegiance to " all and every foreign King, 
Prince, Potentate and State, in all the matters, ecclesias- 
tical as well as civil," and that they would faithfully per- 
form the duties of the office to which they had been ap- 
pointed. Benjamin Mooers took the oath as Sheriff, and 
Abraham Beman, Stephen Taylor, and Zacheus Peaslee, 
as deputies ; John Fontfreyde and John Stewart, as 
coroners ; Theodorus Piatt, as surrogate ; Peter Sailly, 
William McAuley, Pliny Moore, and Robert Cochran, as 
Associate Justices; Charles Piatt, Theodorus Piatt, Wil- 
liam McAuley, Pliny Moore, Murdoch McPherson, Wil- 
liam Beaumont, George Tremble, Robert Cochran and 
Charles Hay, as Justices of the Peace; and Kinner New- 
comb, as deputy clerk. 

The first Court of Sessions for the county of Clinton 


was held in October, 1 788. Judge Chas. Piatt presided, 
assisted by Theodorus Piatt, Pliny Moore, Peter Sailly, 
William McAuley, and Robert Cochran, as Associate 
Justices. Benjamin Mooers was Sheriff, and Melancton 
L. Woolsey, Clerk. The coroner, four constables and 
seventeen grand jurors were in attendance. Of the latter 
sixteen were sworn in and one was set aside " for refusing 
to take the oath of allegiance." This jury, the first grand 
inquest which assembled in Northern New York, closed 
its labors by indicting two of its members for official mis- 

They were tried at the next term of the court, when 
one was acquitted and the other convicted and fined. 
The courts were very strict to enforce prompt attendance 
on the part of jurors and officers. The records are filled 
with orders imposing fines upon dilatory constables and 
grand and petit jurymen. The Bench was not always 
overlooked. In 1825, two of the Associate Judges were 
indicted for " not attending at court the first day," and 
two others, in 1827, for the same offense. At this day 
(1876) a venerable old gentleman resides in the village 
who remembers that, in 1828, he was indicted for the 
heinous crime of ''holding stakes at a /lorse-race,'' and 
wonders why, now-a-days, people can pul^licly sell pools 
at horse trots under the auspices of our agricultural 

The minutes of the Oyer and Terminer for 1828 in- 
form us that one Andrew Clark was indicted " for inveig- 
ling a misdemeanor." What offense against the peace 
of the people and their dignity the seductive Andrew at- 


tempted to wheedle with soft words, is not stated. It 
was evidently of a local character, for the Circuit Judge 
ordered the case to the General Sessions. 

In August, 1796, Judge Egbert Benson, of the Su- 
preme Court, presided at the first Oyer and Terminer 
held in the county. Terms of this Court were subse- 
quently held here by John Lansing, Jr., James Kent, 
Morgan Lewis, Smith Thompson, Ambrose Spencer, 
Wm. N. Van Ness, Joseph C. Yates, Jonas Piatt, and 
John Woodworth. Reuben H. Walworth held his first 
Circuit in this county, in June, 1823. These Courts 
were held at the old Block-House until 1803, when a Court- 
House and jail were completed on one of the twelve build- 
ing lots. This new building cost $2,75 1 . It was burnt by 
order of General Macomb, during the siege of Plattsburgh, 
in 1 8 14, was rebuilt in 181 5- 16, and again destroyed by 
fire in 1836. At this last fire, the outer walls reniained 
uninjured, and form the walls of the present Court- 

The first trial for felony before the Oyer and Termi- 
ner was in 1797, Judge Lansing presiding, when one 
David Smith was convicted and sentenced to imprison- 
ment for ten years at hard labor. He was to be confined 
in the jail of Albany County until the State Prison was 
ready for the reception of prisoners. The court showed 
no mercy to counterfeiters. At the June term, 1808, 
Judge Smith Thompson presiding, Thomas Munsel, David 
Ransom, and William Barns, were convicted of this offense 

> The June term in 1797 and in 179S was held "at the Block-House in 


and each sentenced to be imprisoned for life in the State 
Prison, in the city of New York, and David Langly was 
sentenced to fourteen years' imprisonment for " attempt- 
ing " to pass counterfeit money. Between the years 1825 
and 1837, fifteen persons were convicted as counterfeiters 
and seventeen for breaking jail. Of the last, six escaped 
in the fall of 1828. The last was a "General Jail 
Delivery," through a hole cut into the court-room above 
the prison. 

In olden times, the administration of the laws was 
attended with more ceremony and parade than at the 
present day. The Presiding Judge was escorted from 
his rooms to the Court-House, by the sheriff and his 
officers ; the attending deputies and constables bearing 
long white w^ands, or white staves tipped with black. As 
the judge, with measured step, picked his way through 
the dust or mud of the unpaved streets, the surrounding 
crowd would wonder, as did the citizens of " Sweet Au- 
burn," when they looked upon the well-filled head of the 
village master. Although many of the forms and 
ceremonies of those early days were not in harmony 
with the republican character of the people, there was 
much to admire in the refined and educated dignity of 
the bench, and the courteous tone and manner of the 

I cannot here omit a remarkable instance of the care 
manifested by the local judges for the comfort of impris- 
oned debtors. The records of the Common Pleas show 
that immediately upon the completion of the new Court- 
House, an order was made that " a passage from Caleb 


Nichols's tavern to the new Court-House be added to the 
jail yard and liberties." The debtors, however, had rea- 
son to complain of one clause of the order. The passage 
was confined to a space three feet in width, and was to 
be in a strait line. This order Pemained in force until 
May, 1805, when the limits of the jail were extended to a 
line " one half of a mile from the Court-House, in all 
directions," and from that time debtors, like their more 
prosperous neighbors, could use both sides of the streets 
when returning from the tavern.^ 

Another instance of the sympathy of our local judges 
for the distressed, occurred in 1805, in the case of The 
People against Charles Langley. The defendant had been 
indicted for horse-stealing and let to bail. Subsequently he 
had removed from the State on proceedings being instituted 
against him by the town authorities, on a complaint of his 
being the putative father of an illegitimate child. On appli- 
cation made by the bail to be released, the following order 
was entered in the minutes of the court : 

"May 7,1805. The defendant having been committed (?;/ suxpicion of 
stealing a horse, was, on appearances of favorable circumstances, admitted 

1 The jail limits, as established in 1804, indicate the buildings in the vicin- 
ity of the Court-House at that time : " From the Court-House south to the 
house of Abram Travis, and from there to the houses occupied by Caleb 
Nichols, Marinus F. Durand, John Nichols, George Marsh, Theodorus 
Piatt, Jesse Kilburn, Benjamin Wood, and the new house owned by said 
Kilburn (corner Broad and Margaret streets), and the brew-house (opposite 
the present Post Office) ; also, north from the Court-House, to include the 
house lately occupied by Chauncey Fitch and now by Kilney Grey, and 
thence eastwardly, to the houses occupied by David Broadwell, Abraham 
Beeman, Peter Sailly, James Savage, and Charles Parsons, Jr." On the 
east they included " the forge, mills and buildings belonging to the works 
on the north side of the forge ditch, also, the fulling-mill and shop, and 
Israel Green's house and lot, and the saw-mill on the river, near the bridge, 
and the grist-mill and dam." 


to bail, and found sureties in $50 for his appearance at this Court ; but being: 
afterwards threatened, in consequence of an amour, he was forced to fly. The 
Court thereupon discharge the sureties from their recognizance, but order it 
continued against the principal. Court then rose till 2 o'clock in the after- 

Could a Court be more tender of the feeliiiijs of a 


prisoner or of the pockets of his sureties ; and can we 
wonder that after such an exhibition of its sympathy, the 
Court adjourned for refreshments ! 

Prior to the year 1800, there were but three resident 
attorneys in this village: Adrial Peabody, who was admit- 
ted to the bar in 1795, and Caleb Nichols and Eleazer 
Miller who were admitted in 1796-7. Before this time 
the principal business of the Courts had been transacted 
by attorneys residing at a distance, who travelled the cir- 
cuit with the judges. In May, 1802, Silas Hubbell and 
Jonathan Griffen were admitted to the Clinton County 
bar; John Warford in 1805; Julius C. Hubbell and 
Giliad Sperry in 1808; Reuben H. Walworth, John 
Palmer, and Asa Hascall in 1810; William Swetland and 
Miles Purdy in 181 1, and John Lynde in 1812. 

The resident physicians, prior to 181 2, were Doctors 
John Miller, Chauncey Fitch, Oliver Davidson, and Ben- 
jamin J. Mooers. The first three named, with the other 
physicians of the county, organized the Clinton County 
Medical Society, in this village, on the 6th day of Octo- 
ber, 1807. Doctor Mooers commenced the study of medi- 
cine with Doctor Miller, in the summer of 1806, and 
was examined and licensed to practice medicine in Jan- 
uary, 1 81 2. He had, however, practised extensively for 
nearly two years prior to his admission as an assistant 
to Doctor Miller. 


During those early days, the waters of our river and 
bay abo'jnded with fish of great size and most dehcious 
flavor. In the months of June, July, August and Septem- 
ber, salmon were caught in large numbers, with seine and 
spear. ^ The water at the mouth of the river was then 
of sufificient depth to float the largest lake craft of the 
day. Vessels loaded and discharged their cargos in front 
of Mr. Sailly's ashery, on the north side of the river, and 
at Clark's Landing, near the present stone mill, on the 
south side. About the year 1810, Nathaniel Z. Piatt 
built a store-house on " the point," east of Fouquet's. 
The building was burned at the time of Col. Murray's 
raid, in 181 3, and was soon afterwards rebuilt. Carlisle 
D. Tylee built a wharf on the point, at the mouth of the 
river, near the site of the present railroad machine shop, in 
1 8 16, and in August of that year commenced charging 
for goods landed there. In the winter of 1 8 1 7-1 8, Mr. Piatt 
applied for a grant of land under water, " for the purpose 
of erecting a permanent wharf for the accommodation 
of vessels." A store-house and dock were built the next 
summer. Until this time, pork, beef, &c., were unloaded 
by casting the barrels into the lake and towing them 

Referring to Col. Murray's raid recalls two anecdotes 
connected with that event. The Colonel was walking up 
River Street with Col. Durandand Mr. William Gilliland, 
who were interceding for the protection of the private prop- 
erty of the citizens. The day was very warm, and when near- 
ly opposite the present livery stable of Stave & Ransom, 

1 Salmon were caught here in large numbers as late as 1825, but the 
price had increased to one shilling per pound. 


Murray took off his. hat and, with his handkerchief, wiped 
the perspiration from his forehead. While thus engaged, 
a paper dropped from his hat. Gilliland adroitly dropped 
his own handkerchief over the paper and picked it up 
unobserved. This paper, on a subsequent examination, 
was found to contain information as to the best mode of 
attack on Plattsburgh, together with a map of the encamp- 
ment and military works at Burlington. It was in the 
handwriting of one Joseph Ackley, who, about a year 
previous, had moved into the village from Canada, and 
then resided in the small white house on Oak, near the 
(now) corner of Couch Street. His two daughters were 
attending school at the Academy. A few days after 
Murray's departure, Ackley was arrested, and, on an 
examination before the Justices of the Peace, having admit- 
ted that he was the author of the letter, was sent to Albany, 
but no one appearing against him, he was set at liberty, 
and, with his family, returned to Canada. He was no 
doubt a British emissary, more deserving of punishment 
than William Baker, a sergeant of the 103d regiment 
British Infantry, who was executed as a spy on the 26th 
of March, 18 14. 

With the militia called out at the time of this 
raid, came Capt. Sherry's company of N. Y. State 
Infantry. When the Captain reached the bank of the 
Saranac, and saw the British vessels rapidly nearing the 
shore, he addressed his men with a few soul-inspir- 
ing words, and, pointing to the approaching boats, ordered 
them to "'fight or run as occasion might rcguirc" It was 
an order timely given and promptly obeyed. The men 


did run, and if report is true, did not stop until they 
reached the south bank of the Salmon River, near the 
present village of Schuyler Falls. Considering that Mur- 
ray had 1400 men under his command, the "occasion" 
seemed to require it. An officer during the late rebel- 
lion improved upon Capt. Sherry's order by adding — 
" and as I am a little lame, I will start now." 

It is a fact worthy of note, that for many years boats 
passing through the lake did not enter our bay, but re- 
ceived and discharged the freight shipped to or from the 
village at Cumberland Head. The " Head " occupied a 
prominent place in the early history of the town. Stores 
were established there in 1786-7 by Peter Sailly, John 
Fontfreyde, and others. It was for many years the Port 
of Entry for the District of Champlain, where all entries 
of merchandise subject to duty were required to be made. 
It had also a direct communication with Grand Isle by 
ferry. Many of the most prominent citizens of the town, 
including Benjamin Mooers,Theodorus Piatt, Peter Sailly, 
Marinus F. Durand, John Ransom, John Addams, Melanc- 
ton L. Woolsey, and William Coe, had resided there. In 
August, 1 8 15, John Nichols became the proprietor of the 
tavern at the old Ransom landing, and gave notice through 
the columns of the " Republican',' that he would run a 
stage between his house and the village, " for the partic- 
ular accommodation of passengers in the steamboats." 
Until 18 1 7, Mr. Nichols's wharf was the only landing in 
this vicinity for the steamboats. 

Notwithstanding the natural advantages of its location, 
and the intelligence, enterprise and industry of its inhab- 


itants, the growth of the village was very gradual for the 
first twenty-five years. In 181 1, the village contained 78 
dwelling-houses, 4 hotels, 13 stores and 11 shops and 
offices. Among the merchants were Fouquet & Green, 
Samuel Moore & Co., McCreedy & McDowell, Lewis 
Ransom, Carlyle D. Tylee, Benjamin G. Wood, Elijah 
White, John I. and Roswell Wait, and Piatt & Smith, 
Several of the stores were then on Broad Street. Trow- 
bridge Si Seymour, hatters, occupied a building on 
Margaret Street, opposite what is now Brinkerhoff Street. 
The manufacturing establishments, exclusive of carpenter 
and wheelwright shops, were a small forge, a tannery on 
Broad Street, two small saw-mills, a grist-mill and a fulling- 
mill. The only public building was the Court-House. 

In October of this year, the mill company lands not 
appropriated to mill purposes, were subdivided into build- 
ing lots by Pliny Moore, William Bailey, and William 
Keese, who had been appointed by the Supreme Court 
as commissioners in partition. What is now known as 
the " Park," had been laid out as a public highway, eight 
rods wide, as early as 1803, but it had remained enclosed 
with the adjoining lands until their subdivision into vil- 
la2:e lots bv the commissioners at this time. 

In the Spring of 181 1, a public meeting was held in 
the village, at which Peter Sailly, William Bailey, 
Melancton Smith, John Miller, Samuel Moore, Jonathan 
Griffin, and Levi Piatt, were appointed a committee, with 
authority to raise money by voluntary contributions, for 
the purpose of purchasing a suitable lot and erecting an 
Academy building. The committee selected a lot on Oak 


Street, to be bounded on the south by " a contemplated 
street to be laid out between the land of Melancton 
Smith and lot number seven," then owned by Abraham 
Brinckerhoff, Jr., of the city of New York. The lot was 
four rods in front on Oak Street, and extended back ten 
rods. On the 14th of May, Mr. Brinckerhoff, in consid- 
eration of $100, conveyed the lot to the committee, in 
trust, " for the purpose of erecting said academy thereon." 
The building was immediately commenced, and was com- 
pleted the same year. The building committee were, Sam- 
uel Moore, Jonathan Griffin, and Louis Ransom. It was 
sixty feet long, and twenty-seven feet in width, and front- 
ed on Oak Street. A wide hall ran through the centre, 
dividing the lower story into two large school-rooms. A 
large room occupied nearly the whole of the upper story, 
and was reached from the lower hall by a broad stairway 
in the northwest part of the building. At the time of its 
erection the Academy was the largest and most imposing 
public edifice in Northern New York. 

In the winter of 181 3 and 14, the premises were leased 
to the United States government and used for barracks. 
The Academy was occupied by the artillery, and the old 
Presbyterian Church by the infantry, the parade-ground 
being between the two buildings. 

The Academy was refitted in the spring or summer 
of 1814 and used for school purposes with Spencer Wall 
as principal teacher. 

The upper room was used for many years as a place 
of worship and for public meetings. The Clinton County 
Bible Society was organized in this room, on the 5th of 


March, 1816, with Pliny Moore, of Champlain, as Presi- 
dent ; Doct John Miller, of this village, as Vice President ; 
Azariah C. Flagg, as Treasurer, and William Swetland 
as Secretary. The Rev. J. Byington and Roswell Ransom, 
of Chazy, David Savage, of Champlain, the Rev. Nathan- 
iel Hewitt, William Pitt Piatt, James Trowbridge, and 
General Melancton L. Woolsey, of Plattsburgh, were ap- 
pointed directors. 

The first temperance society in the county was also 
organized in this room. A preliminary meeting was held 
on the 7th day of October, 181 5, at which General Ben- 
jamin Mooers presided, and Silas Hubbell, Esq., of Cham- 
plain, acted as Secretary. A committee was appointed to 
prepare an address to the people, and the towns were re- 
quested to send delegates to an adjourned meeting, to be 
held at the same place, in the month of January. The 
address was published in the Plattsburgh Republican of 
December 16. It was a strong appeal for aid to sup- 
press, not only intemperance, but the other vices of the 
day — those " bummers " following in the track of war — 
swearing, gambling, and an open violation of the Sabbath. 
The committee refer to the great consumption of ardent 
spirits in the county, which they estimated at 30,000 gal- 
lons annually, or nearly four gallons to each inhabitant, 
including women and children. The appeal was not 
made too soon, nor was it made in vain. The convention 
was held at the appointed day, when a " County Moral 
Society " was organized, the salutary influence of which 
was long felt throughout the county. 

The Academy was under the supervision of the com- 


mittee and their successors until the spring of 1828, when 
it was incorporated under the name of the " Plattsburgh 
Academy," and placed under the control of a Board of 
Trustees, with perpetual succession. The date of the act 
of Incorporation, is April 21, 1828. The first Board of 
Trustees was composed of Benjamin Mooers, John Lynde, 
William Swetland, Jonathan Griflfin, Frederick Halsey, 
Frederick L. C. Sailly, Heman Cady, Ephraim Buck, 
William F. Haile, George Marsh, John Palmer, and 
Henry K. Averill. But two of these gentlemen are now 
living — Mr. Sailly, who is President of the present Board 
of Trustees, and Mr. Averill, who resides in one of the 
Western States. 

The Board of trustees of the Plattsburgh Academy, 
has from the beginning been a strong one. The leading 
men have filled this office, and their names are " house- 
hold words ; " always serving without pay and often con- 
tributing liberally in aid of the institution. 

Mr. Swetland was for nearly his whole lifetime, asso- 
ciated with the Board of Trustees, and for many years its 
presiding officer. 

Judge John Palmer was also, during his life, identi- 
fied with the institution. 

The present Board are Frederick L. C. Sailly, Doct. 
Truman DeForris, Cornelius Halsey, Peter S. Palmer, 
William W. Hartwell, Smith M. Weed, George L. Clark, 
Samuel F. Vilas, George M. Beckwith, John Henry 
Myers, and Theodorus Piatt. 

The internal arrangement of the rooms of the Acade- 
my was changed several times. At first, as we have 


stated, there were two large school-rooms below and a 
large hall above. The partitions below were subsequently 
torn down, and the whole thrown into one room. They 
were again put up and the north portion partitioned off 
into small rooms, for those who wished to reside in the 
building — to be again torn down. In 1839, or about that 
time, an addition, doubling the capacity of the Academv, 
was erected by voluntary contributions of the citizens. 

It is said that Bela Edgerton was the first head teach- 
er, with Benjamin Gilman as assistant. After the war, 
Spencer Wall was employed as principal of the classical 
department, and continued to occupy that position until 
the fall of 1 81 7. On the 9th of September, 18 16, a 
school was organized on the Lancasterian plan, and 
placed under the charge of William Young, of Albany. 
In May, 181 7, a "Sunday free-school " was organized, 
which was held every Sunday, from 8 o'clock in the morn- 
ing, " until the time of public service." The upper room of 
the Academy was used for this purpose. This was prob- 
ably the first Sunday-school in the county. About this 
time. Miss Clark opened a school in the Academy, " for 
the instruction of young ladies in the various useful and 
ornamental branches of education." 

In November, 181 7, Mr, Wall was succeeded by the 
Rev. Frederick Halsey, with Miss Cook and Mr. Young, 
as assistants. Mr. Halsey was succeeded, in December, 
18 18, by A. C. Fowler, who remained in charge for a 
year or more, when Alexander H. Prescott was appoint- 
ed principal, with David Brock as assistant. At this 


time, Miss Deming taught the ladies department and 
continued to do so until the Fall of 1824. 

Mr. Prescott remained in charge of the Academy until 
about the year 1831, and during his administration, the 
school deservedly acquired a high reputation. After 
leaving the Academy, Mr. Prescott kept a private classi- 
cal school in the village, until August, 1833, when he was 
appointed principal of the " Clinton County High School," 
at Schuyler Falls. He subsequently removed to Chazy, 
and was for some time principal of a school at that 

Mr. Prescott was succeeded in the Academy by Jona- 
than Blanchard, Jr. The number of students for the 
year 1832, was one hundred. Of these, thirty-five, in- 
cluding Margaret Davidson, the gifted poetess, her bro- 
ther, Levi P. Davidson, afterwards an officer in the U. S. 
Dragoons, and William Sidney Smith, an officer in the 
ist Reg't U. S. Artillery, are known to have died. Of 
those of the classes of 1832, now living, we call to mind 
Samuel B. M. Beckwith and Doct. George Howe, now 
of Chateaugay ; A. J. C. Blackman, of Mooers ; Joseph K. 
Edgerton, of Fort Wayne, Ind. ; Hon. John C. Church- 
ill, of Oswego ; Hon. D. B. McNeil, of Auburn ; Sam- 
uel Piatt and George Stevenson, of New York City; 
John White, of Cleveland, Ohio ; Rev. Cyrenus Ran- 
som, of Peru ; Erastus S. Mead, of Belmont, and Dewitt 
C. Boynton, Rev. Charles L. Hagar, John W. Lynde, 
William D. Morgan, Elric L. Nichols, Peter S. Palmer, 
Levi Piatt, and George M. Sperry, of this town. 

Mr. Blanchard remained in charge of the Academy 


for several years, and was succeeded in somewhat rapid 
succession by Mr. Boynton, Mr. Rich, Mr. Doohttlc, Mr. 
Scott, Mr. Foster, and Rev Dr. Coit. Robert T. Co- 
nant was the principal in 1844 and 1845. , On the 5th of 
January, 1846, John S. D. Taylor, better known as Dor- 
sey Taylor, was appointed principal. His brother, Joseph 
W. Taylor, joined him in September, 1847, and under the 
joint management of the two brothers, the Academy at- 
tained a high reputation in this section. 

Royal Corbin succeeded as principal in i860, Edward 
P. Nichols in 1861, F. G. McDonald in 1865, E. A. 
Adams in 1869, W. L. R. Haven in 1867, W. M. Lille- 
bridge in 1869, and Oscar Atwood in 1871. 

In May, 1867, an act was passed by the Legislature, 
forming a Union School District in the village, and vest- 
ing the government of the schools and of the Academy 
in a Board of Education, composed of ten members, five 
to be elected by the qualified voters of the district, and 
five to be chosen by the trustees of the Academy, from 
their own number. Since then, the Academy building 
has been under the control of the Board of Education. 
The old building was destroyed by fire on Friday even- 
ing, November 10, 187 1. Two lots were purchased 
adjoining the old Academy building on the north, and 
the foundation of a new building commenced in the fall 
of the year 1873. This building was completed at a cost 
of $35-ooc)> aii<^l opened for use September i, 1875. 

The year 181 1 was an important one in the history 
of the village. The subdivision of the mill property and 
the opening of Brinkcrhoff Street, unbarred the lands in 


the central portion of the village, concentrated the mer- 
cantile establishments, which were, before this time, 
widely scattered throughout the place, and generally in- 
fused a new activity and enterprise among the citizens. 
The building of the Academy was commenced at this 
time ; preparations were also now made for the erection 
of a suitable place for public worship, and for the estab- 
lishment of a public newspaper. 

In the spring of this year, a number of gentlemen 
met by appointment at the house of Peter Sailly, to con- 
sider the subject of establishing a political paper. Be- 
sides Mr. Sailly, there were present at this meeting Col. 
Melancton Smith, Judge Kinner Newcomb, Judge 
Charles Piatt, Isaac C. Piatt, Caleb Nichols, Doct. John 
Miller, Thomas Treadwell, and General Benjamin 
Mooers, of Plattsburgh; Judge Carver, of Chazy, and 
Judge Samuel Hicks, of Champlain. A stock company 
was organized, and a press and type having been pur- 
chased, the first number of the Plattsbtirgh Republicmt 
was issued. The paper was at first under the editorial 
supervision of Col. Smith. In 1813, Azariah C. Flagg 
became the editor, and retained that position until about 
the year 1825.^ 

I have before me broken files of the Republican 
from 181 5 to 1820. From these I learn that in the win- 
ter of 1 815-16, a stage line was established between this 
village and the city of Montreal, making two trips each 
week. In summer, the communication was by the steam- 

' A small sheet had been started here in 1807, called the American Monitor^ 
which was discontinued after a feeble existence of less than two years. 


boat Vermont, a small vessel one hundred and twenty 
feet in length, with an engine of twenty horse-power, com- 
manded by Capt. John VVinans. In 1815, this boat ran 
between Burlington and St. John's, leaving Burlington 
every Monday and Friday morning, and St. John's 
Wednesdays and Saturdays, stopping at Cumberland 
Head to land and take on Plattsburgh passengers and 

In August of this year, a new boat, called the Phoe- 
nix, Capt. J. Sherman, commenced running between 
Whitehall and St. John's. This was a larger boat than 
the Vermont, and was advertised as of " uncommon 
speed," and as being *' fitted up in a style not inferior to 
those on the North River." The boat made one round 
trip each week. What was considered great speed in 
those days, may be inferred from the fact, that when the 
Chancellor Livingston was put on the North River, at a 
cost of $1 10,000, it was the boast of the owners and the 
wonder of the public, that she could run from New York 
to Albany in twenty hours ! 

I also find that in January, 1823, Jonathan Thomp- 
son, " the mail carrier," commenced running a stage once 
a week between Plattsburgh and Ogdensburgh, leaving 
this village every Tuesday morning, and arriving at Og- 
densburgh on Thursday evening. This line connected 
with the steamboats on Lake Champlain and Lake On- 
tario, and was advertised as " the best route between the 
Eastern States and the country bordering on the great 
lakes and the St. Lawrence." Mr. Thompson announces 
that he will carry his passengers in " covered spring car- 


riages, strong and commodious," and he promises them 
" excellent public houses on the route," and " very good 
roads for a new country." In December, 1824, the stages 
made two trips each week. This winter we had a tri- 
weekly communication with Albany and Montreal. A 
daily mail route was first established between Ogdens- 
burgh and Plattsburgh in July, 1837. 

The road over which Mr. Thompson ran his " cov- 
ered spring carriages," was now in very good condition, 
thoush it had once been the terror of all those whose 
business led them through Chateaugay woods. In 1811, 
a law had been passed, requiring the managers of the 
lottery for the purchase of the botanic garden, to raise 
$5,000, to be expended for the improvement of the road 
between Plattsburgh and the town of Chateaugay, under 
the direction of Peter Sailly, Jonathan Griffin, and James 
Ormsbee, and the year following anothe-i" act had been 
passed, authorizing the State Treasurer to advance the 
money, in anticipation of the drawing of the lottery. 
The small amount thus furnished was found inadequate 
for the construction of a passable road. Yet nothing 
further was done until 181 7, when the road was im- 
proved by the United States troops then stationed at 
Plattsburgh. This work was commenced in August of 
that year, at a point three miles west from the village 
{Thorn's corners), by a detachment of the Sixth Regiment, 
under command of Lieut-Col. Snelling, and was contin- 
ued, from year to year, to the great disgust of the officers 
and men, until twenty-four miles of the distance had 
been completed. In March, 1822, the sum of $7000 


was appropriated by the legislature, to be expended " in 
extending and completing" the road to Chateaugay, a 
distance of fourteen miles. One-half of this sum was to 
be raised by the counties of Clinton and Franklin, and 
the residue was to be furnished by the State. By an act 
passed February 14, 1823, the Judges of the Clinton 
Common Pleas were authorized to erect a toll-o-ate " at 
or near the dwelling-house of Benjamin H. Mooers, 
eighteen miles west of Plattsburgh village." From that 
time, the road was improved and kept in good repair by 
the tolls. It was an avenue of travel of great importance 
and benefit to this village, as well as to the inhabitants 
of Franklin County, and until the completion of the 
Ogdensburgh railroad, w^as the j^rincipal route of com- 
munication between Lake Champlain and the towns in 
Franklin County, and the eastern portion of St. Law- 
rence County. 

The first execution for murder in this county, was 
that of James Dougherty, a soldier, who was tried and 
convicted for the murder of a young man named John 
Wait, a resident of Salmon River, while the latter was 
returning from Pike's Cantonment, where he had been 
to deliver a load of wood. He was tried at the June 
Oyer and Terminer, 181 3, Judge Jamesv..I,r/?nt presiding, 
and was sentenced to be hung on Friday, the 6th of 
August of the same year, and his body delivered to the 
President of the Clinton County Medical Society, " for 
the use of said Society." He was hung near the lake 
shore on the " Boynton road." On the 26th March, 
1 8 14, William Baker, a sergeant in the British Army 


(103d regiment of Infantry), was executed as a spy. He 
was hung on the sand ridge between Court and Brink- 
erhoff Streets in the villaG:e. 

In July, 181 3, one Francis de Alert and his father 
had been arrested and committed to the county jail, 
charged with the murder of a man named Peter Miller, 
at Champlain. They were both released by the British 
at the time of the raid under Col. Murray, in August of 
that year, and fled to Canada. Francis married soon 
after, and remained in Canada until in the winter of 
1 816, when, for some unexplained purpose, he crossed 
the lines into Champlain. He was immediately arrested 
and recommitted to jail, and having been indicted, was 
tried and convicted, at a Court of Oyer and Terminer, 
Judge Ambrose Spencer presiding, held in June, and 
was sentenced to be hanged on the 26th of July. His 
body was delivered to Doctors Beaumont and Center for 
dissection. On the morning of that day, the people of 
the surrounding country, and from Grand Isle, assembled 
in numbers to witness the execution. Great was the 
disappointment when, about nine o'clock in the morning, 
it was announced that Alert had cheated the gallows of 
its victim, by hanging himself in his cell. 

James Pik'2 was tried for murder on the 30th June, 
1 81 5, before Judge Jonas Piatt, and acquitted. In June, 
1 82 1, George Hyde was tried for manslaughter before 
Judge John Woodworth, convicted and sentenced to 
State Prison for 14 years. 

On the 1 8th of March, 1825, Peggy Facto was 
publicly executed. Peggy Facto was convicted for the 


murder of her infant child. It was an unnatural and 
aggravated crime. The infant was first strangled by a 
string tied around its neck, and the body then thrown 
into the fire, where it was partially consumed. The 
mutilated remains were afterwards concealed under a 
pile of rubbish in the woods, where they were found and 
dragged out by dogs, and the murder thus discovered. 
She was tried at the January Oyer and Terminer, 1825, 
and sentenced by Judge Reuben H. Walworth, on Satur- 
day, the 23d — by the sentence of the Court, her dead 
body was to be delivered to the President and members 
of the Medical Society for dissection. She was executed 
on the arsenal lot on Broad Street. 

Francis Labare was indicted as accessory, and was 
tried and acquitted at the same term of the Court. On the 
28th June, 1826, Elvira Steel was indicted for the murder 
of a Mr. Carter, keeper of the Plattsburgh Poor-House. 
She was tried at the same term before Judge Enos T. 
Troop and was acquitted, on the ground of insanity. In 
June, 1827, William H. Houghton, of Chazy, was indicted 
for murder, and Harriet Dominy as accessory. On the 
trial Houghton was acquitted. The trial continued 
several days. Houghton was defended by Judge Lynde 
and Mr. Swetland, of this village, Ezra C. Gross, of Essex 
County, and Samuel Stevens, then of Washington County. 
After his acquittal Harriet Dominy was discharged 
from custody. 

Alexander Larabee was hung on the arsenal lot on 
Broad Street, on the 23d of March, 1834, for the murder 
of Leander Shaw, his son-in-law. He had been tried 


and sentenced at the January Oyer and Terminer. To 
the last he asserted his innocence and caused a declara- 
tion to that effect to be read from the scaffold by the 
Rev. Father Rafferty. 

Joseph Levert was tried and convicted at the Sep- 
tember Oyer and Terminer, 1847, for the murder of his 
wife, and was sentenced to be hung on the i6th of No- 
vember, of the same year. The scaffold was erected in 
the jail yard. Levert made a written confession, in 
which he gave a detailed account of the murder, which 
was published in the village papers. It was a cool, pre- 
meditated act. 

Joseph Centerville was indicted at the October Oyer 
and Terminer, 1854, for the murder, at Schuyler Falls, of 
his sister-in-law, Margaret Rock, a girl about eleven years 
of age. He was tried before Judge James, at the next 
February Oyer and Terminer, and having been convicted, 
was sentenced to be executed on Wednesday, the 28th 
day of March, 1855. He was hung in the Court-House 
yard, upon the same gallows used at the execution of 

There was great distress throughout the county of 
Clinton during the winter of 18 16-17. Mr. Peter Sailly, 
in a letter to the Secretary of the Treasury, under date of 
January 24, 18 1 7, says : " A large portion of the inhabitants 
are much distressed for want of bread, whilst the poorer 
and laboring class are absolutely destitute of the means 
of obtaining it, at the high price it sells for." The col- 
umns of the " Republican " bear evidence to the severity 
of the season. The summer was unusually cold and 


backward. On Thursday, the 6th day of June, tlie atmos- 
phere at Plattsbiirgh was filled with particles of snow, 
and it was uncomfortable out of doors without a sreat- 
coat. In Vermont the weather was still more severe. 
On Thursday " the snow fell rapidly, but melted as it fell. 
Much snow fell on Friday night, and on Saturday in the 
forenoon in many places. In Williston it was twenty, 
and in Cabot eighteen inches deep. The ground at Mont- 
pelier was generally covered during the whole of yester- 
day (June 8th), and the mountains, as far as can be seen, 
are yet completely white. [Letter published in Rcptibli- 
can of July 13, dated Waterbury, Vt, June 9th.] This 
cold weather was succeeded by an uncommon drought. 
No rain fell during the months of August and September. 
The earth became parched, and, in clay soils, opened in 
large cracks ; swamps were dried up, wells and brooks 
failed to furnish water, and the rivers became so low that 
the mills could not orrind sufKicient to answer the wants 
of the inhabitants. Wheat was brought to the mills of 
Messrs. Smith and Piatt, in this village, to be ground, by 
farmers residing as far north as Lacadie, in Canada. 
Fires also raged throughout the county, burning up large 
quantities of timber and frequently destroying pastures 
and meadow lands. No rain of any consequence fell until 
after the loth of October. " The atmosphere," says the 
Republican of October 5th, " has been so filled with 
smoke, arising from the fires in every direction, that even 
in this village, for three or four days the first of the pres- 
ent week, it would be difficult in the morning to dis- 
tinguish a man at the distance of fifty rods." 

On the 3d day of March, 181 5, an act was passed by 


the Legislature, Incorporating the village of Plattsburgh. 
The bounds of the village, as prescribed by this act, ex- 
tended north to the highway, running east and west 
past the " residence of Samuel Lowell " (now Capt. John 
Boynton's), and west to the east line of the school lot. The 
first election of village officers was held on the 2d day of 
May of that year, at the hotel at the foot of River Street, 
known as " The Ark," and then kept by David Douglass. 
At this election, William Bailey, Jonathan Griffin, John 
Palmer, Reuben H. Walworth, Levi Piatt, Samuel Moore, 
and Eleazer Miller, were chosen trustees, and Giliad 
Sperry, clerk. [The bounds of the village were materially 
reduced by an act passed in April, 1831.] 

One of the first acts of our " village fathers," was to 
provide for the building of a market-house and public 
scales. The market-house was erected on the east side 
of the square or " Park," in front of the Court-House. It 
was used for several years ; the stalls, four in number, being 
annually leased at auction. The scales stood about four 
rods south of the market, and here all hay sold within one 
half of a mile of the Court-House, was, by ordinance, re- 
quired to be weighed. These scales were an old-fashioned, 
clumsy affair, provided with beam and chains, pullies and 
cog-wheels, used for the purpose of raising the wagons off 
the ground. Between the market-house and the hay 
scales, a turnpike road was constructed along the south 
side of the square, while all north of this road was a quag- 
mire, in which innumerable bull-frogs, of enormous growth, 
held nightly concerts for the amusement of our forefathers. 
Nothinc: unusual occurred to mark the deliberations ui 


the Board of Village Trustees, until the summer of 1817, 
when it was announced that the President of the United 
States, Mr. Monroe, proposed visiting the village, while 
on a tour of inspection through the Northern States. 
This announcement excited the corporation officers in an 
unusual degree. A meeting of the trustees was called, a 
committee of reception appointed, an orator chosen, and 
a sum of money, raised by tax for the purchase of a fire- 
engine, and then in the hands of the Treasurer, appropri- 
ated to defray the expenses of the reception. 

On Sunday, the 27th day of July, at noon, the Presi- 
dent arrived by steamboat, and was escorted to the hotel 
kept by Israel Green, by a company of U. S. Infantry, un- 
der command of Captain Newman S. Clark, Captain 
Sperry's company of horse and the Plattsburgh Rifles. At 
the hotel he was received by Reuben H. Walworth, who 
delivered an address in behalf of the corporation, to which 
the President replied. As he passed into the house the 
young ladies of Miss Cook's and Miss Forrence's schools 
strewed his path with flowers. In the evening the Presi- 
dent attended a party at the house of Captain Sidney 
Smith, of the Navy ; on Sunday he attended services at 
the Presbyterian Church, and passed the evening at Judge 
De Lords. 

All this is related in glowing language in the columns 
of the Repiiblican. But the crowning act of the reception 
was reserved for Monday. At ten o'clock in the forenoon, 
the President started for Sackett's Harbor, under escort of 
Capt. Sperry's company. At two o'clock he reached a 
point on the road, thirteen miles distant, where a bower 


had been erected, and a repast provided for his party by 
the citizens of the village. " The site chosen," says the 
Republican, " was romantic and well adapted to the oc- 
casion, on the margin of a brook which crossed the road, 
gently breaking, by its murmurs, the stillness of the sur- 
rounding forest," 

" In such a moment," adds the writer, becoming elo- 
quent over the recollections of the scene, " so congenial 
to convivial gayety, form and ceremony have no place ; 
age looses its caution, philosophy itself is taken off its 
guard, and the flow of soul alone triumphs." Evidently 
the " Clinton County Moral Society " had taken a recess 
for the occasion. After partaking of this collation, the 
President resumed his journey towards the west, the 
citizens returned to their homes, and the trustees watched 
over the village for another year without a fire-engine. 
The President and his escort had eaten it up, in that 
" shaded bower," by the " murmuring brook." 

Speaking of his reception in this village, Mr. Waldo 
says : " In no place through his extensive tour was the 
President received with more undissembled tokens of re- 
spect than at Plattsburgh." [President's Tour, p. 250.] 

Mr. Waldo refers to the collation in the woods in 
the following words : " Prosecuting his route towards 
Ogdensburgh through the majestic forests, the President's 
attention was suddenly arrested by an elegant collation, 
fitted up in a superior style by the ofiBcers of the army and 
the citizens of the County. He partook of it with a 
heart beating in unison with those of his patriotic coun- 
trymen by whom he was surrounded ; and acknowledged 


this unexpected and romantic civility with unaffected and 
dignified complacence [p 251]. 

In 1823, the village contained three hundred houses, 
a church, a bank, a court-house, an academy, three 
printing-offices, a flouring-mill, two saw-mills, a fulling- 
mill and clothing works, an oil-mill, two carding ma- 
chines, three tanneries, fifteen retail stores, and a distil- 

Of the buildings here referred to, none are now 
standing except the court-house and the flouring-mill. 
The distillery belonged to James Kennedy, and stood on 
the south shore of the river, near the outlet of the o-rist- 


mill race. Kennedy advertises to give " five quarts of 
whiskey for a bushel of rye or merchantable corn," or, if 
his customers desired, he " would take wood in payment." 
Piatt & Belcher had three carding machines in the brick 
building at the west end of the dam, and Piatt & Hyde 
conducted the business of cloth dressing in the same 
building. The tanneries were conducted by Stephen 
Avcrill, Daniel Noble, and Lansing Parsons. JMr Noble 
discontinued business in the fall of this year. David 
Kennon advertises " soal and upper leather" for sale. 
James Trowbridge and Shelden Lockwood were each 
engaged in the manufacture and sale of hats. Samuel 
Emery and Charles Haynes carried on the business of 
chair making, painting and gilding, and Joseph I. Green 
had a shop where he manufactured saddles and harnesses. 
Among the merchants were Bailey & Brinkerhoff, Mat- 
thew M. Standish, L. & H. Piatt, C D. & J. Backus, 
Cady & Anderson, James Bailey, Anselm Parsons, Wm. 



H. Morgan, J. G. Frelcigh, John Walworth, N. C. Piatt, 
Samuel Hull, Samuel Lowell, and Alexander McCotter. 
R. C. Hoar sold boots and shoes, and " Dave " Langdon 
was the village cartman. Judge John Lynde was Post- 
Master, and had an easy time of it, if we might judge 
from the following notice in the Plattsburgk Republican 
of April 26th : " We have received no mail from the 
south for several days. We understand that for the 
future it will come but once a week'.' And when it did 
come the postage was twenty-five cents on a single letter. 
Reference has already been made to the manufactur- 
ing establishments in the village in 1835. At that time 
Ephraim Buck was President of the village, William F. 
Haile, Heman Cady, Samuel Emery and F. L. C. Sailly 
were Trustees, and George M. Beckwith was Clerk. 
The principal merchants were Andrew Moore, Sailly & 
Hicks, Samuel Hinman and D. L. Fouquet, who occu- 
pied the stone row at the head of Bridge Street. Heman 
and Cyrus Cady. who occupied the south store in the 
brick block between Bridge Street and the public square ; 
Lawrence Myers, in the old wooden building on the cor- 
ner of River and Bridge Streets ; James Bailey and Cor- 
nelius Halsey, on the north side of Bridge Street, between 
River and Margaret Streets; Moss Kent Piatt, on the corner 
of Bridge and Margaret Street ; Thomas Goldsmith on 
the corner of Oak and Broad Street ; William H. Morgan, \X 
Hugh McMurry, and Samuel Lowell, on the east side of 
the river ; Ephraim Buck, on Margaret, and Paul Mar- 
shall on River Street. Smaller establishments were also 
kept by Joseph Durkee, John Archy, Asa Saunders, and 


Michael Kearney. Ransom Richardson had a cabinet 
store, with machinery, in the old brick building at the 
west end of the dam. William G. Brown, Leonard Crane, 
and D. L. Fouquet were also cabinetmakers. There 
were three hotels at this time, the Village Hotel, kept by 
John Nichols, where the Witherell House now stands ; 
the Phoenix, kept by John McKee, on the present site of 
the Cumberland House, and Fouquet's Stage House. 
Amos A. Prescott was the village jeweller and book- 
seller, and kept an establishment on the west side of 
Margaret Street about half way between Bridge and Brin- 
kerhoff. Daniel Tenney had a hat store on River Street. 
In addition to these establishments, there were, in the 
village, six tailor shops, two bake shops, one marble shop, 
two butcher shops, six milliners and dressmakers, five 
boot and shoe stores, five blacksmiths, four wheelwrights, 
three tanners and curriers, four saddle and harness ma- 
kers, four head carpenters and joiners, six head masons, 
three painters, two butchers, two landscape and portrait 
painters, two tin shops, and two barber shops, one by 
Doct. Thomas, who always gave his customers the " Bos- 
ton touch. Sir," and the other by George Haynes, whose 
name, as appears from the town records, to which we 
have before referred, was " Sir George Provost." 

Of the learned professions there were four clergymen, 
three physicians, and fourteen lawyers. The population 
of the village at this time was about 2,500. 

Nearly all the buildings occupied as business estab- 
lishments in 1835 have since then been burned, or have 
been removed to make place for larger structures. 


The loss by fire alone, in the village, has exceeded 
one million of dollars. 

In the summer of 1813, the British force, under com- 
mand of Col. Murray, held possession of the village for 
twenty-four hours, during which time they burned a 
block-house, the arsenal on Broad Street, the hospital 
buildings on the bank of the lake, two store-houses be- 
longing to Peter Sailly, and the store-house of Major N. 
Z. Piatt. 

In the month of September, 1814, while the British 
under Sir George Provost, occupied the north side of the 
Saranac, a number of buildings which afforded protection 
to the British troops were burned by hot shot fired from 
the American works. The buildings thus destroyed by 
fire were the Court-House, Mr. Savage's, Mr. Buck's and 
Mr, Goldsmith's dwelling-houses, the store and dwelling- 
house of Jonathan Griffin, the store and dwelling-house 
of Roswell Wait, and those of Mrs. Beaumont, a dwelling- 
house and store owned by Charles Backus, two stores of 
Joseph Thomas, and Mr. Power's store — fifteen buildings 
in all. The dwelling-house of John L. Fouquet, on the 
east side of the river, was also burned this year. 

The first fire within my recollection occurred on the 
afternoon of the i6th day of May, 1822, when the home- 
stead of Judge William Bailey was burned to the ground. 
One month later, on the night of the i6th of June, the 
stone grist-mill was destroyed by fire. This was sup- 
posed to be the work of an incendiary, for whose detec- 
tion rewards to the amount of ^1,000 were offered by 
Judge Levi Piatt, the owner of the mill, and by citizens 


of the villao^c. The mill was imniediatelv rebuilt, and 
was in operation in the month of November following. 

The next was the burning of the hotel of Joseph I. 
Green, on the corner of Margaret and Court Streets. 
The main portion, fronting on Margaret Street, was con- 
sumed. I am not able to state the precise date of this 

About the year 1832, the hotel of Jeremiah McCree- 
dy, which stood at the foot of River Street, was destroyed. 
This was an old-fashioned wooden buildino^, known as 
the " Ark," which had long been one of the principal 
hotels of the village. The fire extended to and con- 
sumed a small dwelling-house on the east, and a large 
shed and horse barn on the west side of the hotel. Dur- 
ing the same year, a wooden building on the south side 
of Bridge Street, about midway between the bridge and 
Mill Alley, was burned. 

In the spring of 1833, a cotton factory, built by John 
Palmer and then occupied by Cole & Richardson, and 
also an old wooden building, formerly used by John Mal- 
lory as an oil-mill, and the old saw-mill at the west end 
of the dam, were destroyed. A road or causeway of the 
old slabs, extending from the saw-mill to the bridge, was 
also burned at this time. The fire extended to the west- 
ern abutment of the bridge, which had been filled in 
with logs and pine stumps. These, having caught fire, 
continued to burn for several weeks. 

On the 17th of May, 1836, the Court-House was 
for the second time destroyed. The fire caught in the 
shed adjoining, about 3 o'clock in the afternoon. The 


walls of the building were not injured. The inside was 
rebuilt, and a stone jail erected at a total cost of about 

The store of Hugh McMurry on the corner of 
Bridge and Charlotte Streets, and the store of G. W. 
Webster, adjoining on Bridge Street, were totally de- 
stroyed by fire on the i ith day of July, 1841. 

The grist mill was again destroyed by fire on Friday, 
September 2d, 1842. 

On Friday evening, January 30, 1846, the Methodist 
Church on Court Street was burned. This fire caught 
from a stove pipe in the basement. The church was re- 
built, and dedicated on Thursday, the 12th day of No- 
vember, of the same year. 

But these were trifling losses when compared with 
the destruction made by the memorable fire of August 10, 
1849, which in four hours reduced to ashes the entire 
business portion of the village. When the alarm was 
first sounded the fire had made considerable progress in 
a small wooden building, on the corner of Bridge Street 
and Mill Alley (now Water Street), the ground floor of 
which was occupied by one Thornton, as a low groggery. 
There was but little wind at the time, and although the 
destruction of this building seemed inevitable, no one 
supposed it was the commencement of a conflagration 
which would consume property to the value of nearly 
$300,000. From this building the fire extended to one 
adjoining, on Bridge Street, and also to a small wooden 
building adjoining on Mill Alley, both of which were soon 
consumed. A few feet south, on Mill Alley, was a long, 


low wooden building, owned by N. P. Gregory, and used 
by him as a storehouse, in which was stored a large quan- 
tity of wool, llie roof and sides of this building were 
kept wet with water, brought in pails from the mill ix)nd, 
and the building saved. At about half-past 12 o'clock, 
the fire crossed Mill Alley, and caught in an old wooden 
building on the opposite corner, occupied by Godso and 
Shinville, as a grocery and harness shop. The whole of 
the east side of this building was instantly in flames. 
From this the fire rapidly passed to the rear of R. Cot- 
trill's store and J. H. Mooers, drug store. No water 
could be procured, and it now became evident that an ex- 
tensive and destructive conflagration had commenced. 
(^ Moss K. Piatt's drug store, on the corner of Bridge and 
Margaret streets, and an old wooden building adjoining 
on Margaret street, owned and occupied by Terance Con- 
way, as a grocery and dwelling-house, were soon in 
flames. By this time a strong wind from the south was 
blowing, which drove the heat and flames across Bridge 
Street, melting the tin on the roof of a block of brick 
stores, owned by James Bailey, and setting the roof on 
fire in several places. From this block the fire divided, 
one line following the buildings on the west side of River 
Street, and the other those on the east side of Margaret 
Street, while at the same time the burning sparks and 
cinders set fire to the buildings on the south side of the 
Park. At two o'clock the whole square, bounded by 
Bridge, River and Margaret Streets and the Park, was in 
flames, burning furiously. 

The loss on this square was as follows : on Bridge 


Street, James Bailey, dry goods ; Averill & Sprague, dry 
goods ; Fitch & Cook, hardware ; WilHam K. Dana, dry 
goods. On Margaret Street, Amos A. Prescott, book- 
seller and jeweller ; Guy Dunham, draper and merchant 
tailor; William H. Morgan & Son, dry goods ; William 
H. Hedges, dry goods ; William H. Myers, dry goods ; 
Benedict & Buck, dry goods and boots and shoes ; L. 
Myers, dry goods. On the Park, Firemen's Hall, with 
the public library, containing about 2500 volumes ; Mrs. 
Green s dwelling-house, and Mrs. Winans' dwelling-house, 
occupied by tenants. On River Street, Mrs. Winans' 
dwelling ; James Conway's dwelling ; Andrew Bird's 
grocery and dwelling, and Lemuel F. W^alker's joiner 

While this destruction was progressing, the fire was 
rapidly making its way against the wind, along the east 
side of Margaret Street, south of Conway's. The loss 
here was Alfred Hartwell's clothing store, John J. Drown 's 
shoe store and dwelling ; H. Hewitt, dry goods ; L. Coo- 
ley's hat store ; Nichols & Lynde, wholesale grocers ; 
Benjamin Ketchum, dry goods ; Vilas & Crosby, whole- 
sale dry goods and tinware ; Francis McCadden, clothing 
and dwelling, and two buildings intended for stores, only 
partly completed. Several store-houses and small tene- 
ment buildings in the rear on Mill Alley were also 

The fire crossed Margaret Street, north of Bridge 
Street, and caught in an old building, occupied by Ami 
Beauchamp, as a tailor's shop. At about the same time» 
it also crossed south of Bridge Street, working both ways 


from these points, and extending up Cliurch Alley for 
some distance. The buildings destroyed on the west 
side of Margaret Street, were Samuel F. Vilas's dwelling 
and outhouses, on the corner of Brinkerhoff Street ; A. 
L. &: G. N. Webb's store and dwelling ; William Reed's 
jewelry shop and dwelling ; Cromwell's barber shop and 
dwelling ; J. Ricard's store and dwelling ; Goslin's barber 
shop, bath rooms and dwelling, and Bernard Young's 
store and dwelling. These were all wooden buildings. 
William Palmer & Co., mill store in the south end of the 
" stone row ; " Charles H. Cady, dry goods ; William 
Douglass, dry goods ; Charles C. Moore, dry goods ; 
Caleb Nichols, dwelling ; George Moore's justice ofifice ; 
D. Hoag's grocery ; Beauchamp's tailor shop, and Dill's 
Phoenix hotel and barns. A dwelling-house on Court 
Street, west of the hotel, then occupied by George W. 
Pahner, was burned, as was also a small buildi'ng on the 
corner of Brinkerhoff and Margaret Street, opposite Vilas's 
dwelling-house, then occupied as the Post Ofifice. 

On Church Alley, south side, a dwelling-house of B. 
Young ; Ransom N. Richardson's wagon shop ; Tierney's 
blacksmith shop ; Roberts' blacksmith shop, and Trom- 
bly's blacksmith shop, were burned, and a small wooden 
building, occupied by Felix Tero was torn down. On 
the north side the loss was Baker's wagon shop, the old 
Durand house, occupied by tenants, and several other 
small buildino^s and barns. The ofifices of the Plattsburt;h 
Republican and of the Clinton County lV/n<^, were de- 
stroyed, besides several offices and shops in the second 
story of the buildings consumed. The progress of the 


fire was arrested, on the south, by a row of stone stores, 
and on Cluirch Alley by pulling down the Tero 
house. In other directions it seemed to exhaust itself. 

The fine brick residence of M. K. Piatt, on the corner 
of Macdonough and Macomb Street, was burned on the 
1 8th of March, 1854. 

In August, 1 856, a fire destroyed a block of four stores, 
on Margaret street, opposite Brinkerhoff, one owned by 
D. S. Mc Masters, one by Harvey Hewitt, and two by 
Francis McCadden. 

On the 1 6th December, 1861, a fire occurred, which 
consumed all the buildings on Bridge and River Streets, 
from the Bridge to the John Wells brick building, lately 
owned by O. A. Keyes, except the old Parsons store, on 
the corner of those streets, then occupied by G. W. Hor- 
nick, as a furniture store. The fire was discovered about 
3 o'clock in the morning, in the basement of the store 
then occupied by George N. Webb, and burned three 
buildings owned by J. D. Warren, Mrs. Ricord's block of 
two stores, Paul Marshall's block of four stores, and build- 
ings owned by Charles Barnard, John Duval, Andrew 
Borde, James Griflfin, and Francis Senecal. 

On Friday, the 29th day of May, 1863, there was an- 
other fire which consumed the old Cady homestead, at 
the corner of Margaret and Broad Streets, then occupied 
by Mr. Wolcott ; the old Standish store, on the corner of 
Oak and Broad Streets, then occupied by George W. Day 
as a carpenter's shop, and a dwelling house on Broad Street, 
between these two, owned by Doct. Edward Kane. 


June 6th, 1864, Fouquet's Hotel, on the east side of 
the river, was entirely destroyed by fire. 

The Gas Works were burned Saturday morning, De- 
cember 23d, 1865, together with the lumber sheds of 
Baker Brothers, adjoining. The loss was estimated at 

On Wednesda}^ the 21st day of August, 1867, 
another large and destructive conflagration occurred, 
which again reduced to ashes the greater portion of the 
business part of the village. The fire king passed over 
almost the same territory destroyed in August, 1849. 
The fire was first discovered in the horse shed of the 
Presbyterian Church, and spread with great rapidity to the 
Church and the adjoining buildings. The Presbyterian 
Church was consumed, with most of its valuable furniture 
and the communion service. From there, the fire extend- 
ed west, consuming 3 houses owned by John Wilson ; B. 
D. Clapp's dwelling on Oak Street, and N. Nusbaum's ; 
two houses of Wm. H. Morgan, on the corner of Oak 
Street and Church Alley ; also the following property on 
that alley ; L. M. Cooley's house ; Henry H. Story's 
house ; a large tenement house of M. K. Piatt's, occupied 
by five families ; Peter Malloy, Robert Turner and Wil- 
liam Dixon's houses ; a house occupied by Felix Tero, and 
houses occupied by Mr. Marvin, Paul Carroll, and Paul 
Montville, and two houses belonging to Caleb Nichol's 
estate ; Joseph Tero's carriage shop ; the blacksmith 
shops of Cramer, Ryan and Gonya & Roberts ; Major 
Dolan's saloon and residence, owned by E. M. Crosby, 
Learment & Stave's livery stables, and Dennis Tormcy's 


shoe shop. On Brinckerhoff Street — two buildings in 
process of construction, east of the Presbyterian Church, 
owned by David Hooey and Francis McCadden, and also 
Wm. Bell's marble shop. On the west side of Margaret 
Street — Blake's block, near the corner of Brinkerhoff 
Stieet, occupied by M. Holcomb's hat and cap store, J. E. 
Morrison, drug store, and Sowles & Edw^ards, hardware 
store ; William D. Morgan's store, Joseph Shiff's market, 
C. A. Cook's hardware store, Bernard Young's store and 
residence, E. Hathaway 's clothing store, Edwards & Co.'s 
store, Breed's boot and shoe store and W'm. Reed's jewel- 
ry store in the same room, Balch's drug store. Levy's 
boot and shoe store, and James Griffin's saloon and resi- 
dence. Here George Moore's office was partly torn down 
and the further progress of the fire in this direction ar- 

The fire crossed Margaret Street, south of Bridge Street, 
and burned on the east side of Margaret Street, R. O. Bar- 
ber's grocery store, John Percy's grocery store, S. F. Vilas's 
wholesale dry goods store, F. Palmer & Co., grocery and 
feed store, Nichols, Lynde & Co., wholesale grocery store, 
Weaver & Hall's grocery store, J. H. Cottrill's clothing 
store, J. J. Drown's boot and shoe store, Tilley's bookstore, 
Rothschild & Co., dry goods store, and H. W. Cady & Co., 
drug store. On south side Bridge Street — Noel Bessett's 
harness shop, H. W. Guibord's grocery store, Mrs. Mc- 
Cann's hotel, John P. Smith's and Archers' market and 
residence, S. W. Gregory & Co., office — also their store- 
house on Water Street. Noel's tavern on Water Street 
was also consumed. 


The names above, are of those who occupied the 
ground floor of the buildings destroyed on Margaret and 
Bridge Streets. In the upper stories there were many 
offices, among which I will name the law offices of Beck- 
with & Dobie, Geo. L. Clark, Wm. R. Jones, M. Desmond, 
and Weed & Dickinson. The offices of Doct. E. M. 
Lyon, Doct. Wolff, and Doct. Nichols, and of C. Halsey: 
Howard's and Averill's photographic galleries, — Doctor 
Bixby s and Doctor Howard's dental rooms, — the Masonic 
Hall, with all its furniture, — the Library of the Young 
Men's Association, — J. W. Tuttle's job printing office and 
A, G. Carver's printing office. 

The editor of the " Plattsburgh Sentinel'^ prepared 
and published an estimate of the loss of each individual, 
of which the following is the aggregate : Jylarkets, ^1,550 ; 
hardware, $59,000 ; printing offices, $7,300 ; dentists, $954 ; 
law offices, libraries, &c., $5,200 ; physicians, $5,639 ; boots 
and shoes, $16,500 ; saloons, $7,600 ; druggists, $10,000; 
photograph galleries, $10,000 ; clothing, $10,250 ; harness 
makers, $800; dry goods, groceries, &c., $102,750: mis- 
cellaneous, $28,912: real estate, $192,893; loss by re- 
moval, exposure, and theft, $1 1,01 3 ; grand total, $469,861. 
The amount of insurance is stated at $241,625, divided 
among 24 companies, in very unequal proportions, how- 

The next fire occurred on Sunday evening, the 27th 
day of December, 1868, when the United States Hotel 
was totally consumed. This was followed, one month 
later, January 26, 1869, by the burning of Scheier's and 
Meron's brick stores, on Margaret Street. Three weeks 


after this fire, on the i6th day of February, two stores in 
Bailey's brick block, on Bridge Street, were burned, with 
nearly all their contents. This fire was discovered about 
half past three o'clock in the morning, in Monash's cloth- 
ing store. The adjoining store in the block, occupied by 
L. Cooley & Son, as a hat and cap store, and by Wm. 
Reed, temporarily, as a jeweller's store, was flooded with 
water and the building considerably damaged. On the 
2 2d day of May, following, another fire destroyed the 
store owned by Nichols & Lynde, on Margaret St., direct- 
ly opposite the buildings of Scheier and Meron, destroyed 
the December previous. This store was occupied by 
Hymen Brothers. 

At II o'clock of the night of March 2, 1870, a fire 
was discovered in the basement of a building on the north 
side of Bridge Street, near the west end of the Bridge, 
owned by D. S. Holcomb and occupied by Burdo & Lan- 
more, as a saloon, which, with a store adjoining in the 
same block, owned by Bernard Young, and occupied by 
J. J. Drown, as a boot and shoe store, were burned. 

On Monday night, March, 28, 1870, a fire was dis- 
covered in the rear of Shiff's meat market, in the stone 
row on Margaret Street, opposite the post office, which 
caused considerable damage to the building and its con- 

A fire, on Thursday night, March 23, 1871, caught 
in the garret of the Park House, corner of Park and River 
Streets, occupied by Joseph W. Daller, as a saloon and 
dwelling, consuming a portion of the roof and upper rooms. 
On Wednesday morning, March 29, about 5 o'clock, an- 


other fire broke out in the same building, burning out the 
entire inside of the buildins:. 

On Thursday afternoon, August 22, 1 871, at half-past 
one o'clock, a fire caught in Baker Brothers' lumber yard, 
on Jay Street, destroying the entire stock of lumber and 
the lumber sheds. The Gas Works, Frank Palmer's barn, 
and also five small dwelling-houses, between old and new 
Bridge Streets, east of Fouquet's barn. Loss about 
^20,000, principally in lumber. Insurance $15,450. 

About I o'clock Friday morning, Aug. 25, 187 1, an 
attempt was made to fire Morrill's Billiard Room, on 
Bridge Street, next east of Hornick's furniture store. It 
was fortunately discovered before any damage had been 
done. If successful, probably a number of buildings 
would have been consumed. 

On the evening of Friday, Nov. 10, 1 871, the Academy 
was destroyed by fire. The fire is supposed to have been 
the work of an incendiary. 

On the 15th October, 1872, the saw mill on the north 
side of the river, at the upper dam was burned. The cov- 
ered bridge was also burned at this time, and was replaced 
the next year by an iron bridge. 

On the 15th of April, 1818, an act was passed, grant- 
ing to John Mallory and his assignees, "the sole and ex- 
clusive right" to furnish the inhabitants of the village of 
Plattsburgh with water, " by means of conduits or aque- 
ducts." The legislature were careful that IMr. Mallory 
should never, under this grant to furnish water, go into 
liquidation as a banker, for the last section of the act ex- 
pressly provided, " that nothing in this act contained, 


shall be so construed as to grant any banking powers or 
privileges whatsoever." Under this act, water was fur- 
nished to the inhabitants residing on the west side of the 
river, in limited and uncertain quantities until the fall of 
the year 1871. 

On the 31st of January, 1868, a public meeting of the 
citizens of the village was held at the Court House, to 
take into consideration the subject of supplying the 
village with pure and wholesome water. At this meeting, 
a committee was appointed to draft a law, to be submitted 
to an adjourned meeting of the citizens. This committee 
reported at the appointed time, and the terms of an act 
to be submitted to the Legislature was adopted. The 
act was passed by the Legislature on the 17th of April, 
1868. [Laws 1868, p. 502.] 

By this act, the trustees of the village were author- 
ized to appoint a Board of Commissioners, consisting of 
three persons, whose duty it was made to prepare a plan, 
to be submitted to the taxable electors of the village, who 
were to express, by vote, their assent or refusal to the 
prosecution of the work. If a majority of the electors, 
voting, should be in favor of the plan submitted, the trus- 
tees were authorized to ratify such conditional contracts 
as the commissioners may have made for the purchase 
of land and the purchase of the old water works, and to 
raise upon the bonds of the village, a sum necessary to 
complete the works according to the plan adopted, but 
not to exceed five thousand dollars over the estimated 
cost as reported by the commissioners. The act vested 
in the commissioners the sole and exclusive control of 


the construction of the works, and they were to hold office 
until the works were so far completed as to be in opera- 
tion, when the control and management were to be trans- 
ferred to a superintendent, to be appointed by the Board 
of Trustees. 

On the 15th of June, 1868, James H. Totman, Silas 
W. Gregory, and Benjamin M. Beckwith, were appointed 
Water Commissioners. They reported a plan, on the 
I ith day of August, which was adopted by a vote of the 
electors of the village, and the commissioners were di- 
rected to enter into contracts for the construction of the 

The commissioners estimated the probable cost of 
the work at $94,965.56, as follows: 

Scribner pond and water right, $2,500 00 

Bulkhead at dam, with stop gate, 200 00 

Pipe from pond to reservoir, 16,000 00 

Reservoir and site, 6,500 00 

44,732 feet cement pipe, 40.633 31 

64,529 feet trenching and backfilling, 16,132 25 

40 hydrants, freight and setting, 2,200 00 

Stop gates, 1 ,400 00 

Freight on "pipe, 2,000 00 

Purchase of old water works, 6,400 00 

Engineering, 1,00000 

^.965 56 

As the work progressed, it was found that many items 
of expense had been omitted in the estimate, and that 
some of the estimates were below the necessary cost of 



the work required. It was also deemed advisable to 
change the details of the plan in several particulars. A 
double reservoir was built on the Hammond hill, instead 
of a single one, as at first contemplated. The size of 
some of the mains were increased, and mains laid in 
streets, not at first intended to be supplied. Distributing 
pipe had also to be laid from the mains to the line of 
lots, and a well house and waste drain constructed at the 
reservoir, for which no estimate had been made. The 
number of hydrants was increased from 40 to 60, in order 
to afford more complete fire protection throughout the 

These changes and additions were made by the Com- 
missioners, after consulting with the Board of Trustees, 
and were considered necessary in order to carrying out 
the original intention of the citizens to provide for the 
whole village an abundant and unfailing supply of water 
for domestic use and for protection from fires. To meet 
the increased expense, the Trustees were authorized to is- 
sue additional bonds to the amount of $80,000. [Chap- 
ter 326, laws of 1870, and chapter 60, laws of 1871.] 

The mains having been completed, the office of Water 
Commissioner was abolished, on the 27th day of Decem- 
ber, 1870, and Silas W. Gregory was appointed Superin- 
tendent of Water Works. 

In the construction of the works there was laid 
62,404 lineal feet of cement pipe, and 1 1,702 lineal feet of 
tile pipe — in all fourteen miles and one hundred and 
eighty-six feet. Of the cement pipe, 





is 2 





















Forty-nine stop gates of different sizes, and 60 fire 
hydrants have been set. The cost of the iron pipe, socket 
joint, used for conducting the water across the river was 
$1,440.07 and there has been expended in conducting 
the water from the mains to the lots of consumers, the 
sum of $11,1 18.70. 

The bonds issued to defray the expense of construction, 
are payable as follows : 

July I, 1878, $7,850 

1879, 18,550 

1881, 22,950 

1883, 13,000 

" 1884, 15,000 

1885, 4,000 

1888, 30,000 

Jan'y 1,1889, 37>i50 

July I, 1890, 4,000 

1 89 1, 27,500 

The number of consumers in 1872 was about 675. 
200 buildings pay a fire protection. The revenue for the 
year 1871, was $11,290.95, as follows: First quarter, 
$2,632.38; second quarter, $2,843.89; third quarter, 
$2,938.09; fourth quarter, $2,876.64. 

Although the cost of the water works has been heavy, 
our citizens will never have any real cause to complain 


of the outlay. It will be returned by a decreased expense 
of insurance, the additional protection from fires, and the 
great convenience and comfort to be derived from an 
abundant supply of water at all times for domestic use. 

The two distributing Reservoirs are located at Ham- 
mond's, about two and one-half miles west from the Court 
House, and 214 feet above the surface of Margaret Street. 
The north Reservoir is 156 feet by 160 feet at the top, 
and 104 feet by 108 feet at the bottom, and is 13 feet 
deep. Its capacity, when filled to a point two feet from 
the top, is 1,391,130 standard gallons. The south Reser- 
voir is 160 feet by 162 feet at the top, and 108 feet by 
no feet at the bottom, and is also 13 feet deep. With 
II feet of water it holds 1,487,906 gallons. When filled 
to the top the united capacity of both is 3.596,000 gal- 
lons. The outside embankments have a slope of 2 to i 
both inside and outside, and are 13 feet wide at the top. 

The supply of water must for years be equal to all the 
wants of the inhabitants of the village. With three mil- 
lions of gallons of water held in deposit at Hammond's, 
and ready to be poured out at any part of the village 
under a pressure of ninety-five pounds to the square inch, 
the Fire King will not again hold a saturnalia in our 
streets, as he did in 1849 and 1867. 


Presbyterian. — On the loth day of November, 1792, 
a public meeting was held at the Block House, for the 
purpose of "choosing trustees to take in charge the tem- 
poralities of the congregation of the town, and to form a 


corporation by the name and style of the Trustees of the 
Presbyterian Church or Congregation, of the town of 
Plattsburgh, and to call a minister." At this meeting, 
John Addams, Charles Piatt, Nathaniel Piatt, Melancton 
L. Woolsey, John Ransom, and Nathan Averill, were 
chosen trustees. [Record of Deeds, Liber A., p. 285.] 
Nothing further was done at this time, but two years 
afterwards, the Rev. Frederick Halsey, then a licenciate 
of the Presbytery of Long Island, visited this place, and 
for a short time preached from house to house. He set- 
tled here permanently in the fall of that year (1794), was 
installed as pastor in February, 1796, and in the month 
of October, following, organized the first church in this 
section of the country. The church then consisted of 
eighteen persons, to whom the Lord's Supper was for 
the first time administered on the ist dav of October, 
1797. The names of these eighteen, who formed tlie 
pioneer church of Northern New York, were, Ezekiel 
Hubbard, John Stratton, Abner Pomroy, William and 
Mrs. Badlam, Moses Corbin, Elizabeth Addams, Catherine 
Hageman, Catherine Marsh, Lucretia Miller, Phebe Piatt, 
Esther Stratton, Mary Addams, Stephen and Mrs. Mix, 
Martha Coe, William Pitt Piatt, and John Culver. [Do- 
bie's Discourses.] 

A public meeting was again held in October, 1803, 
at the Court House, "where the Rev. Mr. Halsey s 
congregation statedly met for public worship," and the 
society was there reorganized under the statute. At this 
meeting, Deacons Ezekiel Hubbard and William Pitt 
Piatt, presided. The trustees elected were John Addams, 


Melancton L. Woolsey, Benjamin Mooers, John Howe, 
Thomas Miller, and Benjamin Barber. [Record of Deeds, 
Liber B., 518.] Owing to some informality in the pro- 
ceedings, a third organization of the society was effected 
on the 19th day of March, 1810, when Melancton Smith, 
John G. Freleigh, Elias Woodruff, Sebe Thompson, Jon- 
athan Grifhn, William Pitt Piatt, and Benjamin Mooers, 
were elected trustees. [Record of Deeds, D., 99.] In 
this year the Rev. Mr. Halsey resigned his charge over 
the church, which had now increased to eighty-five mem- 
bers. The church remained without a pastor until P"eb- 
ruary 6th, 181 2, when the Rev. William R. Weeks was 
installed. [Dobie, 200.] It was about this time that ef- 
forts were first made for the erection of a church building. 
In June, 181 2, Abraham Brinkerhoff, Jr., conveyed 
to the society a lot of land fronting on Brinkerhoff street 
[Record of Deeds, D., 386], and the work upon the foun- 
dation of the building was immediately commenced. 
Owing, however, to the interruptions occasioned by the 
military operations on this frontier during that and the 
two succeeding years, the building was not completed un- 
til the fall of 1 81 6. Its total cost was about $10,000. 
[Plattsburgh Republicait, Dec, 181 6.] It is said that the 
success of the undertaking w-as owing to the unwearied 
labors and self-denial of Elder William Pitt Piatt. [Dobie, 
206.] The pews were sold on the 19th of December, 
1 81 6, under the supervision of Benjamin Mooers, 
Melancton L. Woolsey, and Levi Piatt, a committee ap- 
pointed for that purpose, and brought at auction about 
$12,000. On the 25th of the same month, the church 


was dedicated; the Rev. Nathaniel Hewitt, who, in July, 
1815, had succeeded Mr. Weeks, preaching the sermon, 
and the Rev. Dr. Austin, President of the University of 
Vermont, offering the dedicatory prayer. [Dobie, 206. 
Plattsburgh Republican, Dec. 14 and 28, 18 16.] 

At the time of the completion of this building, there 
was no other church edifice in this county, and none in 


the counties of Essex, Franklin\ or St. Lawrence. It 
was the mother of churches in Northern New York, and 
stood a witness to the liberality and christian faith of our 
forefathers, until destroyed by fire, on the morning of the 
2ist of August, 1867.' 

Mr. Hewitt was dismissed in October, 181 7, and the 
Rev. S. W. Whelpley installed in his place, on the i ith 
day of March, 18 18, dismissed in July, 1822, and re-in- 
stalled in February, 1823. Mr. Whelpley was succeeded 
by the Rev. Moses Chase, who was ordained and in- 
stalled on the 2 2d day of February, 1826. He continued 
as pastor over this church until May, 1835, his place being 
supplied during an absence of about one year, in 1833-34, 
by the Rev. Abraham D. Brinkerhoff. The Rev. H. B. 
Newton was installed in July, 1836, and remained three 
years. He was succeeded by the Rev. L. Reed, who was 
installed in February, 1840, 2Ci\d.deposed\\\ November, 1843. 

On the 28th day of February, 1844, the Rev. David 
Dobie became pastor of this church, and remained m 

1 Other religious societies had however, been organized within this terri- 
tory. The First Presbyterian Church of Champlain was organized on the 
8th of September. 1804 (Record of Deeds, Liber C, p. 27); t'l-i' of Cliazy, 
on the 22d March, 1805 (Liber C. 81); and that of Mooers on the ist of 
August, 1807 (Liber C. 257). The first Baptist Society of I'lattsburgh, was 
organized on the 23d day of October, 181 1. 


charge until compelled, by reason of ill health, to ask for 
his dismissal, in October, 1855. Mr. Dobie was succeeded 
by the Rev. Edward B. Chamberlin, who remained until 
June 16, 1858. On the 23d day of February, 1859, the 
Rev. John B. Young was installed and was dismissed, in 
January, 1863. He was succeeded by the Rev. Dr. Edwin 
A. Bulkley, who was installed November 15, 1864. Dur- 
ing a portion of the year 1863 and 1864, the pulpit was 
temporarily supplied by the Rev. Francis B. Hall. In 
the autumn of 1864, a new society, composed of a portion 
of the congregation of the First Presbyterian Church, 
was organized, under the name of the Peristrome Church 
of Plattsburgh, over which the Rev. Mr. Hall was in- 
stalled as pastor. 

In the summer of 1 865 the interior of the church 
building was remoddled throughout at a cost of nearly 
$10,000. The building was totally destroyed by fire in 
August, 1867. Preparations were immediately made to 
rebuild, and on the 17th June, 1868, the corner stone was 
laid with appropriate ceremonies and the building was 
completed and dedicated on the 8th of July, 1873. The 
entire cost of the building and its furniture, including 
bell and organ, was about $56,000. The chapel rooms 
in the basement had been completed in October, 1869, 
and were immediately used for public worship, the con- 
gregation having until that time worshipped in the old 
Academy. The building is constructed of blue and grey 
limestone, extreme length i2ofeet, extreme width 66 feet, 
height of tower and spire 200 feet above street grade. 

Methodist. — The first Methodist preacher known to 


have visited the country 'bordering on the west side of 
Lake Champlain, was the Rev. Richard Jacobs, who was 
in Clinton County in 1796, where he remained several 
weeks, preaching to the few inhabitants scattered along 
the borders of the lake. I cannot ascertain whether he 
came as far north as Plattsburgh. He was drowned 
while attempting to ford the Schroon river, on his return 
to his home at Clifton Park. [Park's Troy Conference 
miscellany, 35.] 

In 1779, a circuit was formed, called the " Plattsburgh 
Circuit," which was placed under the sole charge of the 
Rev. Alexander McLane as "itinerant." It included the 
whole territory west of the lake. The next year the Rev. 
Elijah Hedding was licensed to preach, and was sent to 
this circuit. He remained on the circuit, at this time, 
about six weeks, and is said to have preached his first 
sermon in a cabin on the west side of Cumberland Head. 

[lb., 43-] 

Mr. Hedding returned in 1801, and with the Rev. 
Elijah Chichester, remained one year, " travelling 300 
miles every month, from Ticonderoga into Canada, and 
preaching every day." They were succeeded the next 
year by the Rev. Daniel Brumley and the Rev. Laben 
Clark, and the circuit was afterwards supplied, from year 
to year, by others. In 181 1, this district was under the 
charge of the Rev. Jacob Beeman and the Rev. Heman 
Garlick. It was in this year that Bishop Ashbury 
preached in this village, while on his tour through \'cr- 
mont and Northern New York. [Park's miscellany, 59.] 

In the spring of the year 18 13, a Methodist Episcopal 


Church was organized in the town of Peru, of which Ed- 
mund Clark, John Morehouse, Nathan Ferris, Solomon 
Clark, Joel Clark and John Sheppard, were the trustees. 
[Record of Deed, Liber D., 490.] A Methodist society 
was organized in Chaz3% in Oct., 18 18, with Alexander 
Scott, Thomas Cooper, William Churchill, Solomon Fisk, 
David Hatch, Willard Hyde, Stillman Buckman, Thomas 
Dickinson and James Boudett, as trustees. [lb., Liber. 
F., 165.] But it was not until about the year 1 8 16 or 181 7, 
that any efforts were made to form a society in this 
village. About this time, Shelden Durkee, Ann Durkee^ 
Mary Bacon, Maria Haynes, Polly Averill, Patience Mil- 
ler, John Wells and Michael McDermott, joined the 
church, but no class was organized until November 19, 
1 819, when David Brock was appointed leader. At this 
time the society had been increased, by the addition to 
its members of John Addams and his wife, David Brock, 
Philena Brock, Phebe Edgerton, Ann Smith, and Mr. 
and Mrs. Joseph I. Green. [Manuscript notes of Rev. 
Stephen D. Brown.] Still no regular station was organ- 
ized in the village until the year 1826, when the Rev. 
James Quinlan was located here. He remained two 
years and was succeeded by the Rev. Orrin Pier, who 
was followed, in 1829, by the Rev. Bartholomew Creagh, 
and by the Rev. Truman Seymour in 1831. Until 1831, 
the public services of the church had been held in the 
Court House, but during the charge of Mr. Seymour, the 
society removed to the church building, on Court street. 
[This building was destroyed by fire in January, 1846, 
and was rebuilt the next season.] Mr. Seymour remained 
here until 1833. 


Since that time the following clergymen have been 
stationed in this village: Ephraim Goss, 1833-4; ben- 
jamin Marvin, 1834-6 ; James Caughey, 1836-7 ; Spen- 
cer Mattison, 1837-8; Lyman Prindle, 1838-40; Hiram 
Meeker, 1840-42; Andrew Witherspoon, 1842-4 and 
1858-60; Stephen Parks, 1844-6; Stephen D. Brown, 
1846-8; Ensign Stover, 1848-50; S. P. Williams, 1850- 
52; John E. Bowen, 1852-4 and 1S64-5 i R- H. Robin- 
son, 1854-6; Halsey W. Ransom, 1856-8; Joseph K. 
Cheeseman, 1860-62 and 1868-9; Elisha Watson, 
1862-4; Frederick Widmer, 1865-7; E)avid P. Hurl- 
burd, 1867 ; S. R. Bailey, 1870 and '71. S. W. Merrill suc- 
ceeded Mr. Widmer, but was suspended after being here 
a few weeks. C. R. Hawley, 1872 and '73, M. B. Mead, 
1874 and '75 ; and A. J. Ingalls, the present incumbent, in 

Episcopal. — An Episcopal Society was informally or- 
ganized in this village on the 30th September, 1821, but 
there were no regular continued services of the Church 
until March, 1822, when the Rev. Joel Clapp was called 
to the rectorship of the parish. Mr. Clapp was succeeded 
by the Rev. William Shelton, in August, 1823, who was 
succeeded by the Rev. Mr. Davis, in December, 1826, 
who remained a short time. The Church was without a 
Rector for several years after Mr. Davis left, and during 
this time the members usually attended the services of 
the Methodist Church. A church building was erected 
in the year, 1830 and on the 6th day of September, of 
of the same year, Trinity church was incorporated, with 
James Bailey and Frederick L. C. Sailly as wardens, and 


St. John B. L. Skinner, Samuel Beaumont, William F. 
Haile, William F. Halsey, Samuel Emery, George Marsh, 
John Palmer and John Lyndeas vestrymen. [Record of 
Deeds, Liber 2, 227.] 

In May, 1 831, the Rev. Anson Hard was called to the 
rectorship. The church was consecrated on the 27th day 
of July of that year. Prior to their removal to this build- 
ing the Society had met for worship at the Academy or 
at the Court House. Mr. Hard was succeeded in the 
spring of 1832 by the Rev. J. Howland Coit, who re- 
mained in charge of the parish until August, 1844, when 
he removed to Harrisburg, Penn. After the departure 
of Dr. Coit the pulpit was not permanently supplied until 
November, 1845, when the Rev. Thomas Mallaby accept- 
ed the rectorship. He remained here until December, 
1849, and in March following was succeeded by the Rev. 
Joseph Ransom, who continued in charge of the parish 
until the first day of January, 1852. In April, of that 
year. Dr. Coit returned from Pennsylvania and renewed 
his connection with the parish, over which he remained 
until his death, on the ist day of October, 1866. For 
more than twent3'-six years he watched faithfully over his 
people in this vicinage. The Rev. William M. Ogden, 
who had officiated as assistant minister since the spring of 
that year, was called to the rectorate on the 27th of Octo- 
ber, 1866. He resigned his charge over the parish in 
May, 1869, and was succeeded by the Rev. Henry Mc- 
Clory, who resigned in December, 1870. The pulpit was 
temporarily supplied by the Rev. Charles Fay, of Grand 
Isle, Vermont, until the Rev. John H. Hopkins, S.T.D., 
the present incumbent, was called to the rectorate. 


Roman Catholic CJmrch. — This Churcli was first 
organized in this village about the year 1827, when the 
Rev. Patrick McGilligan was placed in charge ; but prior 
to that time occasional services had been held here by 
Rev. Father Mignault, of Chambly, and by Fathers Don- 
gan and O'Callaghan. The first Mass is said to have been 
celebrated at the private residence of Hugh McGuire, who 
then resided on Broad street. 

Father McGilligan died in November, 1828. During 
his residence here, and until St. John's church was com- 
pleted, the congregation met for public worship in the 
" red store," on Cumberland avenue, which had been fit- 
ted up as a chapel. Father McGilligan was succeeded 
by the Rev. Father Mannigan, who remained a few 
months only, and was succeeded by the Rev. Father 
Rogers, who was here in the winter of 1834-5. After him 
came Father Raf terry, who was here a short time, when 
the Rev. Father Rafferty was placed in charge of the 
parish. He was succeeded by the Rev. Father Burns, 
who died in April, 1836. 

In April, 1834, the congregation purchased of Judge 
John Palmer a lot on the corner of Cornelia and River 
streets, on which to erect a church building. The convey- 
ance was made to Hugh Mc Murray and Edward Kelley. 
On the I st of May, 1 836, a meeting of the congregation was 
held at the regular place of public worship, at which time 
the church was incorporated under the name of the 
" First Roman Catholic Church of the town of Plattsburgh," 
and Patrick Foy, William Eagan, Richard Cullen, Michael 
Kearney, James Trowlan, John Hogan, Barney McWil- 


liams, Michael Ryan and Christopher Sherlock elected 
as trustees. On the next day Mc Murray and Kelley con- 
veyed to the trustees the lot purchased of Judge Palmer, 
and the erection of St. John's church was soon after com- 

The Rev. George Drummond was in charge of the 
parish at this time. He died in Canada in the fall of the 
year 1839, while on a tour among the parishes collecting 
funds for the building. Father Drummond was succeed- 
ed by the Rev. Father Rooney, who remained here until 
the fall of 1854. The church building was completed 
under his administration, and was dedicated by the Right 
Rev. Bishop Hughes, on Sunday, September 25th, 1842. 
Father Rooney was much beloved, not only by his own 
parishioners, but by the citizens of the village of the other 
religious denominations. Under his care the Church in- 
creased rapidly. The records show the number of bap- 
tisms between October, 1839, and June, 1847, to have 
been 1,013. 

Father Rooney was succeeded by the Rev. Father 
Kinney, who remained here until the fall of 1856, when 
the Rev. Father Cahill was placed in charge. He was 
succeeded on the 25th of May, i860, by the Rev. Richard 
J. Maloney, the present incumbent. 

On the 27th day of May, 1869, the Church was re-in- 
corporated under the act of 1863 [Chapter 45], by the 
name of " St. John the Baptist's Church of Plattsburgh," 
with the Right Rev. John J. Conroy, Bishop of the Dio- 
cese of Albany, the Very Reverend Edgar P. Wad- 
hams, Vicar General of the Diocese, and Richard J. 


Maloney, Pastor of the Church, and two laymen, as trus- 
tees. The laymen first appointed as trustees were Ber- 
nard McKeever and Patrick K. Delaney. 

In the spring of 1867, several village lots, fronting on 
Margaret, Broad and Oak streets, were conveyed to 
Bishop Conroy, and by him conveyed to the new cor- 
poration in May, 1870. Upon these lots the corporation 
commenced the erection of a new church building, the 
corner stone of which was laid with appropriate ceremo- 
nies by the Bishop of Albany, on the first day of July, 
1868. This building was occupied by the Congregation 
during the winter of 1874-5, and was dedicated August 
17th, 1875, by Bishop Wadhams of the Diocese of 
Ogdensburgh, assisted by Bishop Grosbriand of the Dio- 
cese of Vermont, Bishop Wadhams preaching in the 
morning and Bishop Grosbriand in the evening. 

The slating of the roof was put on in the fall of 1871. 
The building is cruciform ; length, 201 feet ; the transept, 
84 feet ; height inside, 90 feet. The tower and spire will 
be 250 feet in height, built of masonry and surmounted by 
a stone cross. The work has been prosecuted from the 
beginning under the watchful eye of Father Maloney, to 
whose untiring energy and devotion we shall, in a great 
measure, be indebted for the largest and most imposing 
church edifice in Northern New York. 

In 1853 the French Canadians, who until this time 
had attended the services at the St. John's Church, were 
formed into a separate congregation, under the immedi- 
ate charge of the Oblate Fathers, the Rev. John P. Ber- 
nard and Claude F. M. Sallaz, and soon after commenced 


the erection of a church building on CorneHa street. 
This Church was incorporated under the name of " St. 
Peter's Church, of Plattsburgh," on the i6th day of De- 
cember, 1855, with Joseph Fountain, Isaac Jourdarmais, 
Damien LaForcc, Lewis Chaurain and Lewis St. Michell 
as trustees. On Sunday, November 19th, 1865, the church 
was dedicated by Bishop Conroy, assisted by seventeen 
priests. Father G. Thibault of Longaeil, C. E., having 
preached the dedicatory sermon. Father Bernard was 
succeeded by the Rev. Father Garin, and soon afterwards 
Father Sallaz was appointed the sole presiding priest of 
the church and parish, and retained that position until 
the summer of 1870, when he was transferred to Buffalo, 
He was succeeded by the Rev. Father Charles Bourni- 
galle, who, in October, 1873, was succeeded by Father 
Trudeau, the present incumbent. On the 17th of October, 
1869, the Church was re-organized, under the act of 1863, 
with Peter St. Louis and Damien LaForce as the lay 
trustees. In November, 1869, the trustees of the old 
corporation conveyed the church property held by them 
to the trustees of the new corporation. St Peter's church 
is a large and imposing edifice. To the west and ad- 
joining it is the Mission House belonging to the " Oblate 
Missionaries of the Immacculate Conception," a corpora- 
tion created in April, 1871 [Laws, Chap. 418], having 
for its object the religious instruction of the people, 
the formation and direction of parishes, the education 
of clergyman, the work of missions in this State, and the 
moral and religious education of poor and orphan chil- 
dren. In this mission house the Presiding Priest of the 


parish and his assistants reside. Upon the opposite side 
of St. Peter's church, is the Convent D'Youville beloncr. 
ing to the sisterhood of the Grey Nuns. " Tlie Sister- 
hood of Grey Nuns" was incorporated April 6, 1871. The 
members of the Society devote themselves to the educa- 
tion of the young, visiting and alleviating the wants of 
the poor and sick, and general missionary and benevolent 
work. One of the expressed objects of their charter is 
the foundation of an industrial school for girls out of em- 

Jewish Sy7iagogtic. — On the first day of September, 
1 86 1, a society was incorporated under the name of the 
"Jewish Congregation of Plattsburgh," with William 
Cane as President ; Levi Gold, Vice President ; A. Pey- 
ser, Secretary ; Solomon Monash, Treasurer, and Hyman 
Monash, Cssar Peck and Seleg Levi, trustees. Regular 
services were first held by Rabbi Jacob Ehrich, who came 
here in September, 1862, and who was succeeded by 
Rabbi Julius Weil in September, 1864. Mr. Weil was 
succeeded by Rabbi S. Bernheim, in May, 1867, who re- 
mained here one year, when Rabbi Jacob L. Myer, the 
present incumbent, was placed in charge of the congrega- 

On the 4th April, 1866, the Society purchased of the 
trustees of the First Universalist Church, their lot and 
church building on Oak street, and fitted it up as a place 
for public worship.